Ferndale Community School offers members of the community a rage of learning opportunities which supports the Life Long Learning Agenda. Whenever possible where places are available community members are able to join classes and follow courses alongside students.
Ferndale Community School has been developing the use of ‘Time Credits’ for the last two years. More recently our Partner Primaries Schools and Community First have come on board.
Time Credits make a sustainable difference to a range of organisations across the community, housing, health, care and school sectors. They are proven to increase the number of people involved in the community and are able to help sustain that involvement over time, bringing about a range of transformative outcomes.
Spice Schools aim to inspire students and parents to go the extra mile by contributing time in their schools or community. In return, they will receive Time Credits which they can spend at a variety of organisations across the UK to enjoy events, training and leisure services, as well as within the school. The equation is always the same; one hour in = one hour out.
Spice recognised that in Wales, as with other parts of the UK, that there had existed a rich culture of community and mutual support that was no longer prevalent In the adversity and hardship experienced during the era of coal, there had existed a strong feeling of collective identity and mutualism.
These traditions of people working together gave birth to the mutual societies, educational settlement trusts, miner’s welfare institutes and chapels during the 19th and 20th century. These institutes generated huge social energy, creating an active culture, empowering peoples’ mutual capacity to work together for social purposes.
Coal mining had brought common purpose. In the modern diverse economy of Wales, there have been winners and losers but the sense of common purpose has been eroded. However, as public policy is increasingly recognising there are still plenty oflocal social and economic problems that are best addressed by an engaged community. Spice sought to introduce a community credit system that would stimulate collective engagement, where people would engage with local public services (the modern equivalents of the miner’s institutes) to find a new common purpose and rebuild community.
The Potential for Time Credits
Spice critically examined the potential for timebanking to reinvent this culture of common purpose and community. Conventional timebanking is a system devised by Edgar Cahn whereby people within a community can exchange ‘personal services’ with each other. This exchange of ‘personal services’ revitalises good neighbourliness and systems of support, where people, for example will baby-sit and help each other with shopping or DIY. Time is exchanged with time credits, a currency which values each person’s time equally. For example, every hour a person gives, is an hour which they are owed. The currency provides a simple system of exchange that acts as a stimulus for good neighbourliness This person-to-person timebanking system was introduced to the UKin the late 1990s by Martin Simon and David Boyle from nef in Gloucester and London respectively. Over the last nine years person-to-person time banks have developed across England with support from an umbrella organisation, ‘Timebanking UK’
Spice Community Time Credits Spice adapted the principles of timebanking as a credit system for common purpose. Spice’s time credits are hosted by public and community services and their main function is to credit time that people give to their community. The credits acknowledge time given by local people to support their public service and to volunteering in their local community. For every hour given (Time In), is an hour which can be ‘redeemed’ against a menu of local recreational services (Time Out). People may give their time to community decision making processes, to local community projects or to organising community groups and events. The credits are low cost; because redemption uses ‘spare capacity’ (i.e. part empty cinemas, music venues and public sports facilities)
The credits are a catalyst to move beyond engaging only the ‘usual suspects’ to involve a much more diverse range of people. As this report demonstrates, the results are dramatic, levels of active engagement rapidly increase and the negative cycles of dependency and inactivity begin to unravel. Furthermore, as the credits are embedded within public and community services, they are sustainable and encourage a collective approach between public service professionals and community members.