An innovative scheme encouraging groups to give their time to their community in exchange for rewards has recently been launched in Ely – and those behind it hope its popularity will soar.
Cambridgeshire Time Credits project manager Yannick Auckland says many people who have never volunteered before are putting their names forward – and gaining free activities in return.
A handful of local organisations have already signed up to Time Credits, including Arts Development in East Cambridgeshire (ADeC), Ely Young People’s Project, The Countess of Ely Free Church, Littleport Timebank and the Care Network Community Development.
Ms Auckland hopes to expand the scheme, which brings together communities, charities, councils and businesses to encourage volunteering and sustainable community projects and services.
Speaking at a workshop in Ely last Friday, she said: “Time banking is about people giving their time to each other. Time credits are a little bit of extra flow added to that. It’s about groups giving their time. We have schools, we have children’s centres, we have charities. For every hour that they give of their time they get an hour back.”
Through time credits, people are encouraged to get involved in their communities by volunteering their time to run groups, after school clubs, bingo nights, comedy events, community cafes and other services.
People can share their skills and experiences in different ways – such as by teaching cookery courses, IT skills, information and advice. Or they can sit on committees, take part in consultations or contribute to newsletters. Alternatively they can help to maintain or improve the local environment, such as by litter picking or weeding in public areas.
For every hour they bank up through volunteering, they get a credit, which can be exchanged for fun activities, such as swimming or going to the cinema.
Ms Auckland said: “We are getting people who don’t traditionally volunteer to do so.”
More than half of those taking part in Time Credits have never volunteered before, she said.
“They get empowered.”
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