Innovative Time Credits currency to recognise volunteers and support those with complex needs in Cornwall

An innovative new project, which sees vulnerable individuals rewarded for volunteering in their local communities, has launched in Cornwall.

The Time Credits programme is commissioned by the Council and Community Safety Partnership and run by time-banking charity Tempo. It was first developed in South Wales. Success of the currency has led to rollout in areas across the UK.

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The Cornwall Time Credits programme is aimed at people with complex needs, including those with experience of homelessness; drugs and alcohol problems, domestic abuse and sexual violence.

They are encouraged to get involved within their local communities by identifying their interests and talents, and using them to play an active role within the services they access.

The scheme has seen participants develop new hobbies, skills and confidence, and engage in their communities in a more meaningful way.

Through this, they can earn Time Credits for hours contributed, which can then be ‘spent’ on community, cultural and leisure activities in the local area such as the Seal Sanctuary, Minack theatre, Tate St Ives and from 30 October at 14 Leisure Centres across the county.

In addition, Cornwall residents can spend their credits across Tempo’s national network of partners including attractions such as the Blackpool Tower and St Paul’s Cathedral, if they go out of the area.

Tempo, the charity behind Time Credits, is working alongside Cornwall Council’s Community Safety Service, based with the Drug and Alcohol Action Team and local organisations and services to deliver the new programme.

It was launched in the Safer Penzance area at the beginning of year, and is now being run by both Safer St Austell and Safer Truro as well. Over the next two years the project will be Cornwall wide.

The official launch of Cornwall Time Credits in Penzance on Tuesday brought together agencies and individuals involved with Time Credits to celebrate and publicise the arrival of this innovative project, the first in the South West.

Cornwall-based organisations in the commercial, leisure and cultural sectors interested in joining the programme can elect to become part of Tempo’s nationwide network of corporate partners.

Tempo Time Credits CEO Ian Merrill said: “We are very excited to formally launch Cornwall Time Credits, collaborating with public services and voluntary and community organisations, and the private sector to encourage more people to give time to their community, whilst recognising their valuable contributions. Tempo can demonstrate - from across the country - the benefits that Time Credits bring to individuals and their communities.”

Paul Walker, the Chief Fire Officer for Cornwall, who opened the Launch event said: “It’s great to be involved in such a positive project that is making a huge difference to individuals, helping them to give back to communities where they have been supported and subsequently building community resilience.”

Kim Hager, Joint Commissioning Manager at Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Drug and Alcohol team, said: “This is such an exciting project and we are delighted to be working in partnership with Tempo Time Credits to deliver it throughout Cornwall.

"The scheme supports the Council’s ambitions for safer and healthier communities by prioritising our most vulnerable residents. If we can get it right with the most vulnerable, we can get it right for everyone.

"By building their skills and confidence through volunteering, the programme not only helps the individuals, but brings more back to local communities. I look forward to working with the Tempo Time Credits team.”

Councillor Sue James, portfolio holder for environment and public protection at Cornwall Council, said: “It is fantastic to see such an innovative project launched, and offers a real opportunity to help some of our most vulnerable residents, while giving back to the community.

“It really demonstrates how working together with our partners can help to protect and improve lives across Cornwall.”

Rachel Battleday leads the Time Credits programme at Cosgarne Hall. She said: “Supporting the residents to engage in voluntary work and being able to acknowledge and reward them is a massive boost to their confidence, self-esteem and well-being.

“The external volunteers really benefit from Time Credits and it’s important for us to be able to thank them as well. Supporting the residents to keep active is a key part in their progression into independent living, future employment and helps prevent them from becoming institutionalised”