Spice is a social enterprise originating in Wales but now working across the UK. Spice develops agency time credits systems – a form of currency that uses time as a unit of value – for communities and public and voluntary sector agencies. This model has proven very successful in building stronger communities by engaging citizens as active participants in the design and delivery of community services.
The agency time credit model Spice has developed over the last ten years uses credits to acknowledge people’s contribution to their community. For every hour contributed by a citizen to designing and delivering services or to building communty they earn one time credit. Credits can then be used to access events, learning, cultural or leisure opportunities, or to trade time with neighbours. This, again, works on an hour-for-hour basis, so a community event lasting for two hours will require two time credits to access. Time Credit systems are hosted by local government, schools, housing associations, prisons and development trusts
In this system, a citizen who gives his time by helping to run a local out-of-school club can then spend that time on, to use one example of many, attending a concert at a venue owned by a Spice network Time Spend partner.
Spice’s time spend network has partners across the UK and includes local authority-run leisure centres, climbing centres, concert venues, sports clubs, cinemas and arts galleries, all of whom accept time credits on the door.
Organisations that give out time credits are supported to develop new ways for people spend credits on services and opportunities they provide internally. For example, using credits to access a film night run by the community centre or a school concert/trip or take part in a pool tournament in the homeless hostel.
Within the CCIA project, Spice will be launching, adapting or expanding its existing time credits networks to deliver three pilot projects alongside regional partners in South Wales. Their main focus will be community building, stakeholder engagement and poverty reduction.
CCIA-Subpartners of Spice:
Based on one of the UK’s largest (and one of Wales’ most deprived) housing estates (pop. C.36000) in the West of Cardiff, ACE is being spun out of the existing, Welsh Government-led Communities 1st poverty reduction programme as an independent, income-generating development trust.
ACE’s ambition for time credits systems is to integrate active citizenship into membership of the trust, so rather than having passive recipients on a mailing list, membership is something that is an automatic right of citizens actively participating in community building. Taking a place-based approach ACE intends to weave time credits through all levels of community activity and to create a strong network of public and third sector organisations that feeds in to its work.
ACE’s time credits network is now firmly established after 8 months; with all elements of operational organisation in place, initial baselining conducted and data capture underway, reporting systems established and 35 stakeholders and more than 300 end users engaged.
Already hosting the UK’s largest and most successful time credits system , Creation is an award-winning development trust that has demonstrably used timebanking as a means of creating meaningful and measurable change on the ground. With almost 50% of the 2,000-strong population of the village members of the timebank, Creation is already expanding the scheme into neighbouring areas.
Creation represent a superb resource for knowledge-sharing and learning. For Spice, this presents an opportunity to develop new approaches for adapting its existing time credits network to work with a robust, independent network that has a strong sense of pride in and ownership of its currency. The partnership offers rich potential for encouraging the exchange of credits and social capital between existing and emerging network areas.
As a long-established and successful network in its own right, and having undertaken all relevant elements of the design framework required to get a time credits system firmly embedded, the challenge for the Creation partnership will be adapting both currency systems sufficiently that Creation’s is able to retain its identity as a source of local focus and pride, while at the same time ensuring appropriate fit in terms of being able to transfer currency from one system to another. Creation will also provide useful information regarding the scaling of time credits systems across a broader regional area.
Carmarthenshire Communities 1st Cluster
This new poverty reduction cluster in Llanelli, south west Wales, comprises of the communities of Llwynhendy,Felinfoel and Glanymor and Tysha, It presents an opportunity to use time credits to underpin and strengthen a new and emerging network and gives Spice the chance to test its systems in a new area and from scratch.
As a new start up, this network is still in the operational organisation phase, with recruitment having been undertaken . Initial discussions with the partner regarding HR, support and reporting are due to take place within the next fortnight. Some initial work has also been undertaken in stakeholder engagement, with 10 venues and service providers in the local area now agreeing to provide opportunities for citizens to spend time credits.