Reactivation and Rediscovery at the ATCM Summer School

From award winning clients to a thought provoking workshop, meeting friends old and new to contributing to the discussion around Reactivation and Rediscovery of our towns and cities; the ATCM’s June 2023 Summer School in Leicester was both inspiring and educational. Join us as we delve into some of the stand out highlights of the event.

The workshop

Miconex was fortunate to host a workshop at Summer School asking ‘how can a local currency support community wealth building during the cost of living crisis’. Led by our very own Chief Operating Officer Leigh Brown, former Chair of the ATCM, we were joined at the workshop by Miconex clients Adrian Watson, CEO of Aberdeen Inspired, Helen Hames, Marketing & Commercial Manager at Cambridge BID and Noelle McAloon, Enniskillen BID Manager. Adrian, Helen and Noelle were kind enough to share their insight into how they’ve leveraged their local Town & City Gift Card to support community wealth building. Here’s what they had to say:

Aberdeen. Adrian talked about the success of the Aberdeen Gift Card which launched in November 2020 to further support bricks and mortar businesses in Aberdeen City Centre during the pandemic, and quickly became the inspiration for many other local gift card programs around the UK. However, the real game-changer came in 2022. Working with Scotland’s Towns Partnership, Scottish Government, Aberdeen City Council and Miconex, Aberdeen Inspired successfully submitted an application for £1.924 million to the Local Authority Covid Economic Recovery (LACER) Fund to gift Aberdeen Gift Cards to the most disadvantaged households during the cost of living crisis. This disbursement enabled funds to be disbursed with dignity whilst providing a cash injection to local communities with over £14 million subsequently disbursed across Scotland, the first scheme of its scale anywhere in the UK.

Cambridge. Helen talked about an innovative project whereby Cambridge BID collaborated with Pay It Forward, a Cambridge created non-profit supporting people in need, using the Love Cambridge Gift Card to distribute funds to service users via local charities. Pay It Forward partnered with Jimmy’s, Wintercomfort, Cambridge Housing Society (CHS) and Crossways, giving each organisation preloaded Love Cambridge Gift Cards for them to distribute to their service users or residents. Service users could use the Love Cambridge Gift Card as they wished, such as buying clothes for an interview, food or items for a shared tenancy property. Charities noted that the card supports their wider aims, including empowerment for residents and enabling people who have experienced homelessness to access new environments, such as retail, whilst taking their first steps back into society. An added benefit to the organisations involved is the ability to track spending through the cards so sponsors can understand exactly what impact their donation is making.

Enniskillen. Ireland’s only Island town, Noelle joined our workshop to talk about the success of the Enniskillen Gift Card with corporate sales. 39.5% of people received at least one gift card over the last three years through work rewards or incentives whilst the b2b rewards and incentives market grew by 44.6% in the UK in 2022, with UK and Ireland employers spending £6.2 billion of gift cards for employees in 2022. Noelle explained how macro environment forces had increased opportunities for corporate sales of the Enniskillen Gift Card, and how they met that need by building relationships with key employers to keep the gift card top of mind, and developing these relationships over time.

Huge thanks to Adrian, Helen and Noelle for sharing the benefit of their experience during our workshop.

The awards

Reactivation and Rediscovery has never been more important for our towns and cities, and we know how hard places are working to meet the current challenges posed in the post pandemic era and current cost of living crisis. And so, there is nothing better than seeing places rewarded for their passion and determination to enhance the vibrancy of their high streets during the Town & City Management (TCMI) awards at Summer School, including many of our wonderful clients.

Best Business Support – Aberdeen Inspired. Dedication and focus from Aberdeen Inspired have not only built an enviable proposition for the Aberdeen Gift Card with significant support for local businesses, but the successful consultation and application for the £1.9 million LACER disbursement has demonstrated a win-win for the businesses and communities in need of support across Aberdeen, creating a blueprint for others worldwide.

Inspirational Leader of the Year – Adrian Watson. Adrian’s efforts as national placemaking lead were recognised, with Adrian picking up the Inspirational Leader award. Influencing at a Scottish Government level, Adrian’s efforts gained acceptance and legitimacy of the concept of using local gift cards to disburse funds with dignity to those in need, whilst providing a tangible cash injection to local communities, with almost £2 million disbursed in Aberdeen and over £14 million in Scotland overall.

Bristol BID – Partnership of the Year. We were thrilled to see our friends at Bristol BID pick up this award for their collaborative efforts with city stakeholders, implementing projects focused on water and student safety and achieving the Purple Flag Award. In 2022, Miconex worked alongside Bristol City Centre BID, Redcliffe & Temple BID and Broadmead BID on the introduction of the Love Bristol Gift Card to support their 1200 levy payers, followed by the launch of the Love Bristol Night Out Gift Card to drive footfall and spend to Bristol’s night time economy.

InExeter BID – Event of the Year. Another Miconex client picking up an award was InExeter BID who received the Event of the Year award which recognized the Exeter Carnival as an outstanding, free, event for the community. Miconex first began working with InExeter in 2018 at the launch of the Exeter Independent Gift Card. Since then, InExeter has introduced a new-look physical Exeter Independent Gift Card and a digital version of the card, one of the first places in the South West to do so.

Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council – Best Accessibility Scheme. Over in Northern Ireland, Miconex began working with Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council for the launch of the Causeway Coast and Glens Gift Card in 2019. Their win for Best Accessibility Scheme was well deserved.

What a fantastic evening celebrating our clients, delving into the fascinating topic of Reactivation and Rediscovery of our towns and cities, and furthering the place-making agenda.

For an in-depth look at the gift card industry in the UK, including more on the innovative uses of local gift cards to drive community wealth building, visit:

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