Derwyn earns Time Credits for supporting BUBIC, a drug outreach service in Haringey. He has had a lot of ups and downs in his life, was addicted to heroin for several years and went to prison for dealing drugs. He describes how when he finally stopped using drugs, “all the colour, taste and vibrancy of the world came back”’ to him, and he became determined to turn his life around. It was around this time that Derwyn found BUBIC, initially for support and then as a volunteer. Derwyn now earns Time Credits for community outreach, representing the service at events, and supporting group facilitation.
“All the colour, taste and vibrancy of the world came back.”
Derwyn says, “It feels beautiful to be on the other side of things and use my experiences to help improve the service. I feel like the visible face of recovery.” He is passionate about increasing service users representation at BUBIC and other Haringey services, and feels the skills he’s learned while earning Time Credits are helping him achieve this. He would love to help start a new branch of BUBIC in another borough.
“It feels beautiful to be on the other side of things and use my experiences to help improve the service. I feel like the visible face of recovery.”
What Derwyn has loved most about earning Time Credits is that it has given him the means to try new things with his kids. He has spent Time Credits taking his oldest son climbing at the Castle Climbing Centre, taken his two youngest sons to see a puppet show at the Little Angel Theatre, and gone with his daughter to see the Haringey Racers play Ice Hockey.
All Derwyn’s spending experiences have been great family days out and his kids really enjoyed themselves. He says,
“I really enjoyed being able to do something different and unusual, and was really proud when I heard my kids had been talking about their experiences at school. It’s helped me to develop a new happy and healthy relationship with my children, and also an improved dynamic with my ex-partner. Seeing me doing something productive with my time has been a major reason for this change, and I have been greeted by wider and wider smiles and an appreciation of my efforts!”
Derwyn explains that he is able to use his past experiences to mentor others at BUBIC who are struggling with their recovery. He feels that service user involvement is essential to creating strong supportive communities and that Time Credits are helping to foster this. Ultimately, Derwyn sees himself as the visible face of recovery at BUBIC and he is proud to give time back to a service that has helped him so much.
Spice, the social enterprise behind the Time Credits, was founded in South Wales and has since spread across the UK, including several projects in London. Spice helps individuals to volunteer for the community, in return for which they receive a Time Credit for each hour they give. The credit can be “spent” on community, cultural and leisure activities in their area and across the national network of partners, for example, at Alexandra Palace.
Becky Booth, CEO of Spice, explains why Derwyn volunteering is a real boost to the local community:
“This is unique because people that society usually is fearful of are being encouraged to give back and realise that they have skills and talents too. This project gives people with substance misuse problems the opportunity to volunteer, usually for the first time, and to improve their lives in the process. Rather than being stigmatized, they are given the opportunity to show that they can give value back to their local community.”
Isobel Aptaker, Learning Officer at Alexandra Palace, said:
“Spending Time Credits at places like Alexandra Palace enables community members, young and old, to do things they wouldn’t be able to afford and experience the sights of London like anyone else. It’s a fantastic scheme and one that we’re proud to support. We’re looking forward to working more closely with Spice in the run-up to the opening of the historically significant East Wing of the Palace in 2018 funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Haringey Council.”
Dr. Jeanelle de Gruchy, Director of Public Health, Haringey Council said:
“It is invaluable for residents getting their lives back on track after experiencing substance misuse problems to recognise that they have many skills and experiences that can help them add structure to their lives. By adopting this approach the Time Credits scheme has brought about a dramatic turnaround in participants’ health and wellbeing, and volunteering has also improved their employment opportunities. Earning Time Credits might seem like a small step, but it’s a big change for those who need it most. This in turn also benefits the wider Haringey community, as the participants are taking part in community projects that improve the local area. It’s a great scheme and one we’d love to see expand to other areas of London and beyond.”