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New currency rolled out for Hackney’s homeless population to spend on leisure activities

PUBLISHED: 07:23 26 February 2016 | UPDATED: 14:10 26 February 2016

Graffiti artist Stik designed the currency

Graffiti artist Stik designed the currency

Archant

A new currency to help Hackney’s homeless exchange their time for leisure activities features a design by globally renowned street artist Stik – who once lived at the Mare Street hostel where it launched yesterday.

The currency launch at St Mungo'sThe currency launch at St Mungo's

The yellow and green note, which depicts two people hugging, is worth an hour of time. It bears a quote from Stik that reads: “Your time belongs to you. Spend it on things you believe in.”

People who live in the St Mungo’s hostel in Mare Street, Hackney, can earn the “Time Credit Note” by volunteering for activities like cooking, tidying communal areas and writing for the website.

For every hour they put in they can earn notes to spend on community, cultural and leisure activities – like a visit to the cinema, the Tower of London or the Hackney Empire theatre.

The idea, funded by City and Hackney CCG, was dreamed up by Spice, a social enterprise that has launched 36 local currencies since it started in south Wales seven years ago.

The currency launch at St Mungo'sThe currency launch at St Mungo's

Co-founder and CEO Becky Booth said: “Part of it is about saying to people: ‘You might not have money to pay for those things, but you have something valuable to contribute, so when you turn up to the theatre you know you have earned it and you haven’t just been given a free place.’

“That gives real confidence and value to people.

“It’s about recognising that people here are amazing and have things they can contribute that are of value.

“It’s about supporting them to identify that, and then helping them use their skills both in the hostel and in the community, with the belief that really changes people’s futures.

“Stik has shown what a difference it can make to your life and future if you are given the opportunity to use your skills and talents and experiences.

“This project is all about that.”

She descibed Stik’s work on the credit note as “wonderful” and “such a synergy”.

At the launch this week, Stik – whose work can be seen on buildings around Hackney, Berlin and even New York – told the Gazette how flattered he is his design was chosen for the note.

“I used to live in St Mungo’s a few years ago,” he said, “so it’s nice to come back here and be involved in other people’s journeys.”

The artist’s book was launched last summer and went straight to many stores’ top 10 non-fiction book lists.

“St Mungo’s helped me turn my life around and gave me a stable base and a warm place, and a lot of help,” he added.

“They understood street art was an important part of my recovery and didn’t ask too many questions when I came back at night covered head to toe in paint.

“The hugging image used on the note represents time spent with loved ones in times of struggle.”

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