From its launch
in 1991, Letslink UK continued without external support until
1997, when it was funded for two years by the Community Fund,
allowing a modest salary for the founder-coordinator,with
formal office space and some clerical and technical input.
In the process, Letslink UK, which had been an independent
agency staffed by a partnership-team carrying out research,
publishing and consultancy, adopted the usual format for membership
bodies, ie a company limited by guarantee with charitable
aims, thereby acquiring a Board of Trustees supervising the
founder-director as sole employee.
Curiously, whilst recommending
a cooperative structure for LETS groups in order to share
out the considerable workload of running a LETS scheme, whilst
the best available advice had been taken, LETSlink seemed
to have overlooked any analysis of what structure was needed
for the tasks of (a) supporting the development of some 450
independent member-groups (b) conducting negotiations at the
parliamentary level on the Benefits issue, and (c) continuing
publishing, teaching and consultancy. Thus there was no teamwork
nor steps taken to obtain the additional funding which would
have enabled a viable group of staff to be appointed.
The mismatch of need and provision
took its toll and trustee resignations ensued, followed by
the appointments of new individuals with even less clarity
on what contribution they should be making. Thus, staffing
support at the appropriate level was not in place by the time
the inevitable health problems caused by an excessive and
unremitting workload over a ten-year period forced the coordinator
to take a much-needed sabbatical break, in August 2000, resulting
in a regrettable discontinuity of service to members.
The interim solution has now emerged
of running the organisation from the offices of Letslink London,
one of a number of existing regional networks, currently wokring
on a voluntary basis. Individual members, LETS organisers
and regional coordinators are working with Letslink London
to evolve a structure which will enable us all to more effectively
promote the development of LETS in the UK.
WATCH THIS SPACE!