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Time Credits scheme set to expand

A volunteering scheme that has proved a big hit in Wisbech is planning to expand into other parts of the district.

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Time Credits is a way of rewarding people for giving up their time to help others in their community. One hour's volunteering with any of the participating organisations earns one credit which can then be spent on various leisure activities, events or training.

Yannick Auckland, the scheme's project manager for Cambridgeshire, said: "The programme is going really well in Wisbech, where we have about 18 member organisations and an extensive network of signed-up volunteers.

"Now we've got plans in place to bring the scheme to the March and Chatteris area in early summer, so we'd love to hear from anyone there who is interested in getting involved.

"We're looking both for organisations who are keen to recruit volunteers and others willing to offer places where people can spend their credits."

Places where people can currently spend their credits include Fenland District Council's four New Vision Fitness leisure centres, the Light cinema, Elgoods Brewery, Fens Falconry and Cambridgeshire Adult and Community Learning.

Orchards primary school in Wisbech has been part of the scheme since it was launched as a pilot project in  the town in 2013. It is run there by Lyn Johnson, part of the school's Wellbeing team.

She said: "We've got 100-plus people signed up as volunteers. They get involved in all sorts of things - helping children to read, gardening, clerical work, painting, after school clubs, litterpicks, you name it. Whatever is going on in the school, we try to support it in some way.

"It has really helped build links between parents and the school. It has given many the confidence to come in when they were a bit reluctant before.

"Quite a few people have also got jobs from it - for example, several are now working as teaching assistants and two ladies are running interventions to improve children's language skills."

Other local member organisations include the Ferry Project, the Rainbow Savers credit union, Wisbech Flood Wardens, the Oasis Centre and the Wisbech Children's Centres.

The programme is run by Spice, a social enterprise, and is funded by Cambridgeshire County Council and the CHS Group.

Yannick Auckland said more volunteers would be welcome.  "We're particularly interested in hearing from older people. Time Credits have been shown to be very effective in combating isolation and loneliness and improving and maintaining independence, health and wellbeing.

"As a volunteer with one of our older people projects has told us: 'They make you feel like you're worth something. I feel appreciated and this has given me so much confidence'."

·         For more details on Time Credits email juliecorbett@justaddspice.org.

Article added February 3, 2016