Elaine Lewis McNally is the Family Support and Play Worker at Pencader Family Centre. The Family Centre provides a range of activities such as play facilities, courses, food co-op, financial inclusion, credit union, women’s aid services, visits – recreational and educational, cake making, parental classes, luncheon club, clothes and equipment swaps, cookery classes, etc. Many of the parents and children that attend the centre live close by on the Maescader Estate in Carmarthenshire. The Centre provides a safe haven for many single young mothers and they are able to access support, guidance and company. Their vision is to give every child a good start in life and to provide as much parental support as possible.
Elaine had experienced the impact of Time Credits during her last role and was keen to develop links with Time Credits at Pencader Family Centre. Elaine could see that there were strong links between the vision for Pencader Family Centre and the projects that they deliver there.
Elaine says “We were interested in using them here as they benefit all of the community and brings them closer together. It has encouraged our members to do more volunteering in the centre and has given them far more confidence and self-worth. All staff fully support the project and can all see the benefit of introducing them into the centre. Time credits have definitely benefitted both the staff and volunteers. The volunteers couldn’t wait to start!
“Members earn Time Credits for helping cleaning the centre, doing the food co-op, luncheon club, and play sessions, gardening club and crafts sessions. The project has been running for about a year and we currently have 8 volunteers earning time credits on a regular basis. We would like to recruit more young mums and dads in the future. Word of mouth is starting to spread in the community and more people are showing an interest.”
Members have also been having an amazing time spending Time Credits and it has been making a big difference to their lives. Elaine says “People spend their credits on a range of things such as going to Funsters and Excel bowling. One family used them last year to go camping in Tenby. They are spending them both independently and we are going to start charging some Time Credits for day trips. Being part of the Carmarthenshire Time Credits network is also a huge advantage and it’s really helping the centre to change some of their methods of delivery. Elaine says “By attending the Carmarthenshire Network Event I met the Carmarthenshire Twirlers we are arranging for them to come into the centre soon so people can use their time credits for that activity. We are also going to start charging for arts and crafts sessions within the centre.”
“Time credits have made a big difference to some of our volunteers, their confidence has grown and it has enabled them to do things they wouldn’t have normally, such as to take their children bowling and to the Botanic Gardens. The project has attracted new volunteers, we now have 3 new young mums who help out regularly in the centre. One young mum has certainly grown in confidence, she is far more outgoing now and has taken her daughter to the Xcel bowling in Carmarthen and paid with time credits. She wouldn’t have done this before the project started.”
Elaine has some simple advice for any organisations that are thinking of getting involved in a Time Credit Network and says “Go for it! You have nothing to lose but a lot to gain. Time credits are a really valuable tool to help all organisations which have volunteers as an important part of their makeup. The time credit project has made a big difference to our family centre and we are very grateful to Carmarthenshire Housing Services and Spice for introducing us to it.”