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How Barr Community Council used the South Ayrshire Gift Card

The South Ayrshire Gift Card can be spent with over 100 businesses across South Ayrshire. In May 2022, Barr Community Council gave each of its 133 households a £50 South Ayrshire Gift Card, using wind farm funding.

Tom Walker is the chair of Barr Community Council and said:

“Barr Community Council is a legally constituted group which acts as a conduit between the council and the community. It’s a very small, rural village of 133 households and 240 people out in the countryside and surrounded by wind farms. Part of the agreement with the wind farms is a community development fund, which we usually use on a project for the area.

“We saw an advert for the South Ayrshire Gift Card via South Ayrshire Council and thought that instead of using all of the fund for a project, we could buy the gift card. To see if our residents would like the idea, we got in touch with them and asked what they thought. The response was overwhelmingly positive, every respondent said they would like to receive a South Ayrshire Gift Card through the fund, so Barr Community Council purchased a £50 South Ayrshire Gift Card for every household.

As a community council, we have a duty to take action to support the area

“As a community council, we have a duty to take action to support the area. Using the South Ayrshire Gift Card means we have been able to have an extra impact. Some residents will donate their gift card to raffles. Some of the gift cards will be spent in our local Barr Community Shop and Café, which provides a vital service to our community. This will keep money in the hyper local area and support the viability of this community resource. And some of the gift cards will be spent in the wider South Ayrshire area, benefiting the region’s economy.

“The alternative for a community council such as ours is an Amazon voucher or something along those lines. We can’t just give out cash. It’s actually quite difficult to distribute funds in a way that caters for the various needs of the community. In the past, we’ve used wind farm funds on a particular project, like upgrading the multi-use games area, or making the area look better but of course some projects only benefit certain residents.

“The good thing about the South Ayrshire Gift Card is that it puts the money directly into residents’ pockets and they can decide what to do with it. It’s a way that we can help everyone and give a little boost in a tangible way. And at the moment, with costs rising, I’m sure that is something that will be appreciated.

“From a practical point of view, buying the South Ayrshire Gift Card for our residents was very easy for us as a Community Council. We’re volunteers and there are only a set amount of hours in the day, so any project has to be simple and easy to deliver. I spoke to Julie at Miconex who was brilliant, and answered the questions we had about the card. Julie explained the South Ayrshire Gift Card is a prepaid Mastercard, and can be spent like a debit card in all registered businesses with the balance automatically updated.

An Amazon level of speed with the power of local

“As the order was over £2000, Julie arranged an invoice for us to pay, and our gift cards arrived by special delivery literally the next day. It was an Amazon level of speed with the power of local. For security, the cards were locked, so we contacted Julie to say the cards had arrived and Julie unlocked them, ready to hand to residents. If we’d wanted though, Miconex could have arranged to email each resident and post their gift card out individually. We didn’t need this extra service, but I’m sure it would be really handy for some organisations and save them the time of distributing cards.

“The gift cards arrived in a nice holder, so they make a nice ‘gift’ to hand out. As the gift cards work like any other debit or credit card, they are also very useable across the age groups. Like most communities, we have some older residents, but all are comfortable with using bank cards, so we’re not asking them to do anything complicated. Anything too different or complicated would require us to create explanations on how to use the scheme, which could take up a lot of time and reduce participation.

“Unlike some initiatives, I know that everyone will benefit from using our wind farm funds for the South Ayrshire Gift Card, and everyone will use their cards. I would recommend using the Scotland Loves Local Gift Cards to any community council or community organisation. We’re happy that it will make a positive difference in Barr, and in the outlying areas.”