Celebrating the volunteers that strengthen our public services
We’re in the middle of celebrating Volunteers’ Week, an annual event to recognise and celebrate the millions of volunteers all across the UK. Read Spice CEO Ian Merill's account of the difference the Time Credit model has made to their volunteers, backed up by results from their latest impact evaluation.
Spice’s Time Credits programmes are all about recognising and celebrating people’s voluntary participation and encouraging more and more people to get involved.
One area we’ve focussed on at Spice is encouraging people to help shape and deliver public services, that is to say co-production. It can be a challenge for public services, but the impact is huge, both for individual outcomes and for public services that are under huge strain.
How do Time Credits work?
Our Time Credits model makes it easy for people from any background to contribute, and feel valued for their time. Time Credits works very simply:
- for every hour that an individual gives to their community or service, they earn one Time Credit.
- People can then ‘spend’ Time Credits to access events, training and leisure activities provided by public, community and private organisations, or to thank others in turn.
Over the last eight years, we have worked in partnership with a range of local councils, NHS and third sector partners to deliver local Time Credits programmes, and to date, over 35,000 people across England and Wales have earned Time Credits.
Ways to earn Time Credits
Volunteering to earn Time Credits can take a number of forms,
- from taking up a specific role in designing or delivering a service,
- to facilitating a peer support session or other activity.
In programmes where Time Credits are embedded in service delivery, we work with both the service and individuals to create exciting opportunities for people to give their time. This forms a more equal and reciprocal relationship between professionals and those accessing services, while the input of volunteers that have lived experience of an issue or service helps to positively shape the service going forward.
At Spice, we recently launched a report, ‘Building Communities Together’, to celebrate the achievements of our Time Credits volunteers.
Many people have told us that earning and spending Time Credits has helped them to feel more connected to the systems which underpin and form the foundations for their community.
Results from our 2017 impact evaluation, completed by over 1200 people, highlighted a whole range of ways it can lead to significant improvements in an individual's’ well-being, including:
●78% feel that they can contribute more to the community
●49% have made new friends
●63% feel less isolated and lonely
●69% feel more positive about the future
We’re delighted with the results and believe it goes a long way to strengthening the argument for investing time and commitment in volunteering.