Innovations in health and social care - Spice Time Credits

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Problem

Many people would like to volunteer to support their community but do not know how to get involved, feel that they do not have anything to offer or are wary of making a big time commitment. In the health and social care sector in particular, the financial downturn has placed increased demand on voluntary and community organisations to deliver frontline services. In many cases, a small number of individuals that volunteer are often heavily depended upon, and this over reliance is risky for communities, VCSE organisations and individuals.

Solution

Spice facilitates Time Credits, a time-based currency that works very simply: for every hour that an individual contributes to a cause in their community, they earn one Time Credit. Time Credits can be exchanged for a wide variety of services or gifted to others.

Evidence Base

 There is considerable evidence to show that volunteering leads to positive health and wellbeing outcomes for an individual. See NCVO for the most up to date published research. Researchers from the University of Cambridge recently completed an 18 month research project into the public health outcomes of the Cambridgeshire Time Credits programme. You can read the final report here. Or see Spice’s 2017 evaluation,  ‘Building Communities Together’.

Expected impact

 Through the introduction of Time Credits, public services, voluntary and community organisations are able to recruit new volunteers from diverse backgrounds and retain existing volunteers. Within public services, engagement with Time Credits leads to more co-produced services as service users become more involved in shaping service design and delivery. Participation in Time Credits also leads to a wide range of positive health and wellbeing outcomes for individuals.

Stage/ spread (where it is/ how much is there?)

Over 350,000 people have earned Time Credits so far and Spice programmes are currently live in 6 regions and across services including substance misuse and recovery, homelessness, mental health and with older peoples’ services. The Time Credits ‘spend network’ is made up of hundreds of corporate partners spread across our programmes in England and Wales. Spice’s forthcoming five year strategy sets the plan for Time Credits growth to national scale.

What would councils/ local areas need to do or have in place to enable it to happen?

Time Credits are a flexible tool and can be applied in many settings. Spice looks for commitment and enthusiasm from commissioners to embed Time Credits fully in a service or locality.

What would kill it?

  • Use of Time Credits on products as opposed to time-based services or activities.
  • Devaluation of currency through lack of adherence to Spice’s code of practice for Time Credits.

Where to go for more information

Visit justaddspice.org, look us up @justaddspice or contact jude@justaddspice.org. This animation from the University of Cambridge research shows the journey of an individual that participates in Time Credits & the impact.