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Blaengarw Time Centre

 

In Blaengarw, a small town in South Wales in the United Kingdom, “time is money!” but then in literal sense. For every hour spent on community work citizens receive one Time Credit and this gives a person access to attend one hour of a time-entry social, educational or cultural event. It is a very successful form of trade based on the idea of solidarity with the community and for that reason everyone’s time (whether a brain surgeon or a babysitter) is equal in value.

 

The project in Blaengarw started in 2000 with buying a community building in the centre of town that was threatened with closure. This former Workmen’s Hall includes a 250-seater auditorium with a stage, childcare room, dance studio, dark room, training suite and general-purpose rooms. Activities include coffee mornings, arts classes, information technology classes, a youth club, dance and drama workshops, sugar craft and after-school clubs. The main hall hosts many live events and performances.

 

In the first year, 150 people participated in community work. Now there are over 1,000 members and 30 groups, 15 new social enterprises and many new learning opportunities. Participants contribute 60,000 hours of service per year to their community. On average 600 people visit the hall each week. Entry to events is charged in time or in cash.

 

Amongst the community assets in Blaengarw are Food Shop, a Community Cafe, a Digital Inclusion centre, a Community Library, a Heritage Café and a sculpture studio. People are invited to get involved in a range of helping activities: Help in the Time Centre – assisting the after-school clubs, helping with social events, maintenance, administration, mentoring, delivering leaflets, help in the Community – participating in community-based projects, Summer play schemes, events, environmental and arts projects.

 

The projects are community owned and led, shaped primarily by the determination of local people to attain the things they want for themselves, their families and their neighbours.

 

There are many other Time Banks in the world, but none of them is so successful as the one in Blaengarw. According to the initiators of the project this is because they use a different starting point. In most cases Time Banking is used as a tool to connect neighbours and friends to each other through circles of exchange, but the Time Centre in Blaengarw has a different purpose and a different approach: its primary aim is to engage individuals to help the whole community. Individual members with similar interests connect through the centre and form new groups. The project has created an active learning culture and people form their own learning groups and actively share their skills with the community.

 

The community has also come together to do large projects. In the Summer of 2007 Blaengarw held its first festival for 21 years with over 7,000 time credits issued. It has now become an annual event on the calendar and a great symbol for the effects of the Time Centre on the community.

 

Time credits are issued by fiat from the ‘central bank’ rather than by members when they trade. All credits issued are backed and redeemable to maintain confidence. In that sense time credits are no different from any other currency and it is crucial to keep the circulation going by inventing creative projects. If there aren’t enough things for people to spend Time Credits on, they loose interest and the whole thing fizzles out.

 

Time Centre in Blaengarw is run by the Creation Development Trust, a community enterprise. The Trust also assists other organisations and companies that would like to purchase buildings or assets to make their community enterprise sustainable. The Trust is now the largest employer in the Upper Garw Valley. Future plans include green tourism, an art exchange and enterprise incubators.

 

 
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Properties

Type of initiative Knowledge/advice organization
Field of work Trade, Financial services, Other (specify): Time Banking
Date of commencement 2000
Founder(s) Community initiative
Legal form Foundation
Continent Europe
Country England
City Blaengarw Time Centre
One or several keywords that describe your initiative Time Credits, Time Banking, Community building
Publications newsletter, courses, press releases
More information
 

Contact person(s)

Dawn Davies (dawn.davies@creation.me.uk)

 

Contact information

Name Creation Group
Address Blaengarw Workmen's Hall
Zip/postal code CF32 8AW
Place Blaengarw, Mid Glamorgan
State/province
Country England
Phone Tel: + 44 (0)1656 871911
E-mail enquiries@creation.me.uk
Website http://www.creation.me.uk

 

 

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