‘Paid’ volunteering scheme on trial

photo flickr - edwin11

Lewisham will be the only London borough trialling a two-year scheme ‘paying’ people to volunteer in the local area. The scheme is part of the Government’s white paper named ‘Giving’, aimed to encourage people to donate their time.

The time credit programme was proposed by Spice – a social enterprise developing time-banking systems across the United Kingdom.

Becky Booth, Programmes Director at Spice, said:

“the new scheme will encourage people to work together to achieve positive change in local communities”.

“Spice is working in partnership with Lewisham council to develop a time credit scheme in the borough.”

The time credit scheme provides volunteers with credits for their work, which could be spent on leisure activities in participating organisations. Voluntary work will take on various forms, from running youth activities, local community groups, environmental projects or even being part of the local decision-making process.

Volunteers will be given one credit for each hour of their time, which they can spend at a number of places and on a variety of activities: seeing a movie at a cinema, having lunch at a community café, playing bingo at a local leisure centre, and many more.

The credits will be given out in form of paper notes, which volunteers can take to a number of participating institutions, such as theatres, cafés, cinemas, leisure centres, dance schools and more.

Yet if volunteers do not wish to spend their time credits, they can also be donated, or exchanged with other volunteers for mutual support, such as dog-walking and gardening.

The Government’s White Paper ‘Giving’, which was launched on 23rd of May by David Cameron, outlined how the Government along with organisations and businesses can work together to encourage people to give time and money. This white paper seeks to revive Britain’s culture of generosity by co-working with charities and businesses.

A £10m Social Action Fund was announced as part of ‘Giving’, with £30m to support the voluntary sector infrastructure. The paper also states that MPs will have to give one day a year to volunteer at a charity or voluntary group of their choice. As part of the paper, the Time credit scheme has been given a budget of £100,000 and is being trialled in Wiltshire, West Norfolk.

Lewisham, as a borough which has a long history of active time banking schemes in the UK, will be the only borough in London evaluating the effectiveness of the scheme.

Becky Booth added:

“The new time credits programme will build on this existing work by encouraging new individuals and groups in the community,”.

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