About us

Give generously, receive graciously and all will be well! This is the philosophy of the West Bridgford Skills Exchange – which now has 80 members and covers virtually every skill and service you can imagine. The Skills Exchange has gone from strength to strength - the idea being that everyone has got something to contribute to the community and that everyone’s efforts are rewarded in the same way. For every hour that someone gives, they will receive a Gem, a plastic token which they can use anywhere in the system.

But how many people know that the Skills Exchange can trace its origins back to a small group called the West Bridgford Chippers which was set up in January 1995, in and around Elm Tree Avenue? The West Bridgford Chippers – so named because everyone chipped in and helped out – aimed to get back to the good old fashioned community spirit where everybody of any age is involved. Karina Wells, who set up the scheme, explained that Elm Tree Avenue was ideal as it encompassed a good mixture of ages, professions, interests and family situations. The group did small things for each other – ironing, hoovering, sewing, cooking, gardening and in an emergency helped out with plumbing, electrics etc. Everyone started with 10 chips and an up-to- date list of other members’ hobbies and skills. After a couple of years the group had spread and grown and it became increasingly difficult to maintain hard copies of skills lists – and Karina went abroad because of her husband’s job for a few years. However, when she returned to West Bridgford, she began thinking about combining the principles of the Chippers with the new technology of emails and internet. She explained: “When we moved back to the UK, I needed to build a new friendship circle. The location of friends had become very important. They had to be residents of West Bridgford so that they could walk or cycle to each other because I believed that the future would bring hardship due to high oil prices and that the building of a close community was even more important.” So, in the summer of 2008, a group of 12 friends got together to set up a new Skills Exchange in West Bridgford. The principles are the same as the original Chippers – it is TIME that is important, no matter what you do. If you want to set up an exchange for yourself, wherever you live, just contact Karina and she will be happy to explain how to go about it. It is very easy and more or less runs itself, but you and the members will need a computer and the group needs between 12 – 18  active and enthusiastic people to start off.