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Tips & guides 3,769 views Feb 19, 2016
Unlocking Local Assets – Giving Time in Communities

Spice work with local communities and services to unlock time and skills from the local community and to support people to give their time. We believe everyone has something to give and everyone’s time is equal. Elly Townsend, Senior Project Manager: Business Development, Evaluation and Learning, talks about how Spice do this using their innovative Time Credit currency to enable great levels of giving, how they develop local networks to reach many more people, and the impact this is having across the country.

What are Time Credits?

People can earn Time Credits by giving their time to local services e.g. youth clubs, sheltered housing schemes and community groups. One Time Credit is earned for each hour of time given and acts as a thank you for the contribution of time. People earn Time Credits in a wide range of ways, such as supporting or running community activities, sharing their skills, peer support and advocacy.

People then spend Time Credits to access events, training and leisure activities provided by public, community and private organisations, or to thank others in turn. Spending activities are contributed by local attractions and businesses, or put on by organisations using Time Credits or individuals who earn them.They include physical activity such as swimming, gym use or walking groups, theatre shows, sports events, training courses and social activities such as community coffee mornings or trips/outings. Our network includes fantastic places like the Tower of London, Blackpool Tower, Fusion Leisure Centres as well as lots of smaller businesses. Spending Time Credits enables people to access this wide range of activities they may not be able to otherwise.

Building local Time Credit networks

Spice are commissioned by organisations who want to build Time Credits into their work and unlock local community assets. We work with all sorts of organisations from local authorities, housing associations and social care service providers, through to community development organisations and schools.

We work with each lead partner organisation to set local priorities for every programme. Asking, how do they want to use Time Credits? What do they want to achieve? Who are they trying to involve and where? Once we are clear on this we can then start to build a local network of people using the Time Credits currency.

With the lead partner we sign up local groups and organisations and we support them to change the way they work with people and communities. Many of our network partners are small charities and community groups who use Time Credits to attract new volunteers or to develop new projects.

In 2014, we surveyed organisations to find out what the impact of Time Credits had been on their organisation. 75% reported seeing benefits within the first 12 months of being involved, 62% reported being able to make better use of skills and resources in communities and 48% said they were able to deliver improved services. One community group responsible for managing a community centre for the last few years described how Time Credits has re-invigorated this asset, changing the focus from being a ‘letting out’ of the community centre space to engaging the community in the centre, with smaller groups using the centre and Time Credits being used to increase awareness and reward people for getting involved.

Spice recently completed a further evaluation of our programmes of work in England and Wales with independent evaluators Apteligen. It showed that Time Credits are also having a profound impact for individuals earning Time Credits:

We’d always like to do more, so if you’ve got a great idea for Time Credits or you’d like to talk more about how they might work in your organisation and enable people to give time locally do get in touch with We always interested in having a chat!


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