Spicing up volunteering

County Councillor Martin Curtis, partners and volunteers show how a new volunteer project can be a real credit to the local community''Left to Right ' Wendy Lansdown (Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC)), Phil Chand (Ferry Project), Marlene Hall (CCC),  Mandy Freear (volunteer), Liz Tansley (volunteer), Julie Carlile (Orchards CofE Primary School), Lynn Johnson (Orchards CofE Primary School), Diane Sarid (volunteer), Nicola Parker (Head Teacher, Orchards CofE Primary School) and County Councillor Martin Curtis, Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council.
County Councillor Martin Curtis, partners and volunteers show how a new volunteer project can be a real credit to the local community''Left to Right ' Wendy Lansdown (Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC)), Phil Chand (Ferry Project), Marlene Hall (CCC), Mandy Freear (volunteer), Liz Tansley (volunteer), Julie Carlile (Orchards CofE Primary School), Lynn Johnson (Orchards CofE Primary School), Diane Sarid (volunteer), Nicola Parker (Head Teacher, Orchards CofE Primary School) and County Councillor Martin Curtis, Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council.
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The Hudson Leisure Centre is spicing up volunteering in Wisbech by taking part in a trial scheme being run in Cambridgeshire for the first time.

Over 70 local people have already signed up to the ground-breaking Spice Credits scheme since September and have given nearly 400 hours to their community.

The pilot project is being delivered by Cambs County Council and the Spice Social Enterprise. Volunteers working on the project can earn spice credits for each hour they give in the form of currency. In return and as a thank you, they can spend their credits on fun activities and events provided by businesses, the community and even in other areas, such as West Norfolk, where the Spice Social Enterprise is active.

With the Hudson Leisure Centre signing up to the scheme, those volunteers can now spend their credits on swimming, saunas and soft play sessions. Volunteers have also spent their time credits on trips to Hunstanton, bowling, watching wrestling and some are saving up for a trip to Tower of London.

Initially, the scheme is open only to people using the three local organisations where volunteering can take place: The Orchards CofE Primary School, South Wisbech Children’s Centre and the Ferry Project. Volunteers have been giving their time on a whole range of tasks including gardening, helping at the Wisbech Adventure Playground, helping in school with reading and painting.

The Spice Social Enterprise specialises in delivering time credits and have delivered schemes across the country in partnership with a whole host of organisations including Local Authorities and Housing Associations. Spice began in 2003 as an Institute within the University of Wales and was founded in 2009 as an independent charity and social enterprise

County Councillor Martin Curtis, Leader of Cambs County Council, said: “Time credits are a great way to recognise volunteers for the time, skills and value they give freely. It’s also important to reward volunteers where possible for their hard work. By giving their time so generously, local people are becoming more involved with their local community, and developing new skills in the process. This could be by volunteering in a school, litter picking at the Spinney or helping with a session at the Children’s Centre. Although it is early days for the project, I’m delighted to see so many sign ups and it shows its potential. I’ll be keeping a close eye on how it develops.”

Headteacher at the Orchards Primary School, Nicola Parker, added: “The Time Credits project has really taken off at Orchards, benefitting both school and families equally. Parents have taken on many roles and then used credits to pay for an afterschool club, for a family day out in Hunstanton or even bowling in Kings Lynn. One parent summed up the whole project whilst volunteering in the Summer holidays when she said, ‘I am fed up of saying no to my kids.’ This way parents can help us in school and then take their children to activities that they would normally be unable to access. I look forward to the project expanding with more opportunities to earn and spend in Wisbech.”

Jason Richardson, Leisure Services Manager at Fenland District Council, said: “It’s great for the Hudson Leisure Centre to get involved in Spice Credits in Wisbech. We want to support volunteering in the local area and encourage people to visit the centre and get physically active. Spice Credits represents a win win on both counts.”

The pilot project runs to the end of this year and it is hoped in will continue. If your organisation would like to be involved, you can register your interest by email to wendy.lansdown@cambridgeshire.gov.uk