2013/14 has been perhaps our most successful year to date. With over 150 active volunteers 4 part-time staff members, and a number of new funding streams, we have initiated several exciting new projects in Twerton and Foxhill, taking timebanking to a whole new level.
Foxhill Festival was funded by the Big Lottery Awards for All. It took place over 8 days in May this year and comprised around 30 different community events and activities in the Foxhill area, harnessing the talent and creativity of local residents of all ages.
The programme kicked off with a Party in the Park, attended by over 300 people, and also included art exhibitions, a treasure hunt, local history talks, a family filmshow, music workshops, a pub quiz, local walks, an evening of performance by local musicians and more. The final music event (included in the Bath Fringe Festival) attracted an audience of over 80 people and was a fitting close to a truly magnificent week.
Thanks to funding from Chrysalis, we are able to continue working with the Foxhill community in the coming year, building on the partnerships and activities initiated through the Festival.
Redland Park Time Exchange has been one of our biggest and most productive projects this year. Funded by the People’s Health Trust, with additional support for youthwork sessions from the Commissioner’s Community Fund, this project is based on and around the Redland Park Estate in Twerton.
Following consultation with local residents, we focussed particularly on developing activities for children and young people in the local area. Youth activities included art and crafts, circus skills, football coaching, nature activities and outdoor cookery.
We also organised 3 Community Fun Days in the local park and a Christmas event at a nearby community venue for people of all ages. With several hundred local people attending, these events were an excellent way to build community cohesion and for the local community to participate in taster activities and get to know the Time Bank.
Much of the work in the Redland Park area was carried out in partnership with other local agencies including Curo Housing Group, St Michael’s Junior School, Community Learning Service, Bath Area Play Project, First Steps Children’s Centre and Southside Youth Hub. Partnership working helps to ensure an element of continuity for the local community once a particular funding programme comes to an end.
For example, one of our volunteers helped to set up and co-ordinate a school gardening club for parents, children and members of the local community. Due to the success of this activity, Curo have agreed to contribute towards funding for the gardening club in the coming year.
Art for Wellbeing was a programme supported by Quartet Community Foundation which has enabled us to run art classes in Twerton and Foxhill, focussing in particular on confidence building and wellbeing. Our art classes have been popular and hugely successful, unleashing the creative talent of local people and culminating in wonderful displays of artwork.
In addition to the project work outlined above, we have continued to co-ordinate an active programme of ongoing Time Bank exchanges and services, including:
- a variety of individual exchanges, ranging from giving lifts, cleaning and helping with interview skills to language help, hair cutting and mending a football net!
- a capable and productive gardening team, which has been going out every week to help maintain the gardens of those in need of assistance;
- a DIY /decorating team, supported by funding from Comic Relief, which has provided training in basic practical skills to our volunteers whilst helping with simple practical jobs in peoples’ homes;
- a fortnightly food co-op, providing bags of locally grown vegetables at affordable prices to people living locally;
- a number of ongoing groups led by Time Bank members, including guitar, Knit & Natter, walking, board games and crochet.
Funding from St John’s Hospital has enabled us to offer 1:1 support and mentoring to our more vulnerable members, such as young people who are not in employment, education or training, people with physical or mental health issues or those with learning difficulties. For example, we supported a young man with cerebral palsy to volunteer, helping in the library at St Michael’s Junior school. This helped him to gain confidence and to achieve a place on a work experience course, as well as being a good awareness opportunity for children at the school.
Timebanking is a wonderful tool for helping to motivate people and enable them to gain skills and confidence and to build stronger and more active communities. Through projects, groups, partnerships, learning opportunities and events, people become involved in local activities and then go on to help others in many different ways.
Through all our activities, our volunteers are always in the driving seat, helping to push the boundaries of timebanking to newer and wider horizons. In the past year nearly 170 new members and 16 organisations have joined the Time Bank, contributing a total of almost 6,000 hours.
With several successful projects behind us, we are now in the process of looking ahead and contemplating what the future may bring. Funding for core costs and ongoing activities is always hard to attract and in the past 2 years we have been very fortunate to receive support towards our core costs from Mr Brian Roper of Roper Rhodes, now sadly deceased. With multiple pressures on funders and no assurances of ongoing funding, securing our future is, as ever, a challenge.
We would like to say a massive thank you to our amazing, ever-helpful volunteers, our wonderful, supportive management committee and to our generous funders who have demonstrated their trust in us to make all this possible.