The Blaengarw Time Centre is a time bank founded in 2006 in Blaengarw, South Wales, United Kingdom. The centre is run by the Creation Development Trust, a social enterprise and located in the old miners’ welfare hall. The scheme is based on the principle that for every hour of time a member offers to the Time Centre, (s)he may take an hour back by attending a wide range of time-entry social events, including concerts, theatre, cinema and other nights out events.
As of 2012, the Time Centre had more than 1000 active participants, organised in 30 community groups and had a turnover of 60,000 hours of service to the community over the year.
The Blaengarw Time Centre seeks to strengthening the community spirit, grow local networks and encourage volunteering for local projects. Specifically, the Time Centre aims to engage individuals to help the whole community, which is the main difference with ordinary time banks that primary focus is on connecting neighbours and friends (Kennedy et al., 2012).
Blaengarw is a small village of about 2000 inhabitants situated in Bridgend County, South Wales. This area was a mining site as part of the Garw valley. Before the advent of the Time Centre, the community was experienced typical problems of post-industrial areas: unemployment, loneliness and community breakdown (Kennedy et al., 2012:240).
Organisation and History
a. Organisation and History
Time banking was brought into Blaengarw after Dawn Davies (Trust Director) spoke with Geoff Thomas and Becky Booth of the Wales Institute for Community Currencies, which developed into Time Banking Wales and SPICE. The Time Centre was launched after the Blaengarw Workingmen’s Hall was threatened with closure in 1999 because of lack of Council’s funds. When the Creation Development Trust took over the management responsibility, the Time Centre became a focal point for the community, where local groups of all ages met to run social activities, including classes, arts collectives and cultural events.
The Creation Development Trust, a non-profit organisation, funds the Time Centre together with the Local Council. There are two full time coordinators that run the centre, along with volunteers.
a. The system in numbers:
As of 2012, there were over 1000 active members organised through 30 community groups, and 15 social enterprises having projects with the centre. The centre had a turnover of 60,000 hours annually.
b. Function and Unit of Account
As a way to build community, the main function of the Time Centre is to serve as platform for trading Time Credits. One Time Credit equals one hour of voluntary work, irrespective of the task accomplished.
c. Issuance – Backing
Time Credits are issued as paper notes of 1 hour. The credits are fiat money backed by rewards that can take shape of entrance at events at the community centre (including films, theatre, live music, comedies and cabarets).
d. Funding – Business Model
The scheme relies entirely on sponsorship and funding from the Creation Development Trust and the local council.
How it works?
After signing up in the scheme, new members collect their welcome pack containing all relevant information to get started. They then have an informal chat with one of the coordinator concerning what to offer and what sort of events they prefer to attend. Once this introduction process has terminated, members earn Time Credits by help running the Time Centre or participating in community projects. Members with similar interests may join purpose-oriented groups, like festival groups, card making groups, arts groups etc. Credits can be spent to attend events and activities ant the Time Centre that include film evenings, tea dance, cabaret, having a meal at the café and so on.