Volunteers in Fenland can now take the ‘credits’ for their stoic efforts under new scheme

County Councillor Martin Curtis, Volunteers and partners celebrate time credits scheme

County Councillor Martin Curtis, Volunteers and partners celebrate time credits scheme - Credit: Archant

Over 70 people have signed up to a new programme which allows people to gain ‘credits’ for each hour they give to voluntary work.

Hudson Leisure Centre, Wisbech, is one of the organisations taking part in the trial scheme being run in Cambridgeshire for the first time.

So far volunteers have ‘banked’ some 400 hours of voluntary work and can redeem their credits on fun activities and events provided by local businesses and organisations.

The pilot project is being delivered by Cambridgeshire County Council and the Spice Social Enterprise. Volunteers working on the project can earn spice credits for each hour they give in the form of currency.

In return and as a thank you, they can spend their credits locally as well as in other place such as West Norfolk, where the Spice Social Enterprise is active.

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With the Hudson Leisure Centre signing up to the scheme, those volunteers can now spend their credits on swimming, saunas and soft play sessions. Volunteers have also spent their time credits on trips to Hunstanton, bowling, watching wrestling and some are saving up for a trip to Tower of London.

County council leader Martin Curtis said: “Time credits are a great way to recognise volunteers for the time, skills and value they give freely. It’s also important to reward volunteers where possible for their hard work. By giving their time so generously, local people are becoming more involved with their local community, and developing new skills in the process.

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“This could be by volunteering in a school, litter picking at the Spinney or helping with a session at the children’s centre. Although it is early days for the project, I’m delighted to see so many sign ups and it shows its potential. I’ll be keeping a close eye on how it develops.”

Initially, the scheme is open only to people using the three local organisations where volunteering can take place: The Orchards Cof E Primary School, South Wisbech Children’s Centre and the Ferry Project. Volunteers have been giving their time on a whole range of tasks including gardening, helping at the Wisbech Adventure Playground, helping in school with reading and painting.

The Spice Social Enterprise specialises in delivering time credits and has delivered schemes across the country in partnership with a whole host of organisations including Local Authorities and Housing Associations. Spice began in 2003 as an Institute within the University of Wales and was founded in 2009 as an independent charity and social enterprise

Nicola Parker, head teacher at Orchards school, said: “Parents have taken on many roles and then used credits to pay for an afterschool club, for a family day out in Hunstanton or even bowling in Kings Lynn.”

The pilot project runs to the end of this year and it is hoped in will continue. If your organisation would like to be involved, you can register your interest by email to wendy.lansdown@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

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