Spice is a timebanking platform which encourages people to volunteer with public services in return for ‘time credits’, which can be redeemed with a number of partner organisations.
Spice took the traditional person-to-person time banking model and developed it into an effective tool for local community groups and public services. Its role is to support organisations to design and embed time credit systems within their own services, providing training and support and negotiating partnerships with a network of organisations who accept Spice Network Credits.
Each hour spent volunteering earns one time credit, which can be banked, traded or redeemed through a range of activities that Spice negotiates with corporate, public service or community providers. For example, a volunteer might help out at a local school, creating a vegetable garden, then use the credits earned for a babysitter or local theatre tickets under a deal negotiated by Spice.
The model also gets more people interested and involved in the delivery of public services, helping to create better, more effective services which are ‘co-produced’ with users, as well as giving individuals the chance to gain new skills and build their confidence through volunteering.
Since its launch in Wales in 2009, Spice has expanded into five new areas across England, where it manages timebanks with a range of health and social care, housing, education and community development providers.
As of March 2014, Spice is running 24 projects, working with over 400 local organisations, with 274 places where volunteers can spend their time credits. In the past two years, Spice has supported 12,500 users to put time into timebanks in England and Wales.
Spice has a distinctive physical currency, with a brand that is adapted in each local area. It also recently launched an online platform to enable the exchange of time credits for activities to happen virtually, and to allow the transfer of credits between users.
Spice was awarded £400,000 to design and develop a showcase programme of Time Credit systems in Lewisham, West Norfolk and Wiltshire.