Imagine an economy built on social rather than financial capital, where members of a community offer their skills, services and talents in exchange for opportunities to take part in activities, have new experiences and learn different skills.
This is exactly what Community Time Camden (CTC), an initiative managed by the Abbey Community Centre in Kilburn, is achieving for its service users.
Local people offer their skills, services, and talents for time credits, which they can then spend on taking part in other activities, such as cookery classes, bingo, or IT lessons.
About 500 older people regularly use the Abbey Community Centre and the CTC project has been a lifeline for many, offering not just the opportunity to learn vital digital skills for those who have left the workplace but also an opportunity to socialise and meet new friends.
Judith is one of a team of volunteers that runs the weekly IT sessions. She has been coming to the centre for three year, after her sister suggested she should drop in to see if there was anything she could help out with. Judith admitted: “I needed a push, as I wouldn’t have just gone in for a chat. I like to feel that I’m being useful.”
At the time Judith was dealing with ill health and depression. Since joining the scheme she has never looked back.
“Joining Abbey Community Centre was a turning point for me. So many over 50s lack confidence in their digital skills and feel increasingly left behind in a world where more and more tasks are moving online”. The IT sessions cater for all abilities and Judith thinks members get so much out of them because they learn from each other.
CTC was established with funding from Big Lottery Fund’s Silver Dreams’ programme. It has also received further funding of £369,169 from Reaching Communities, as well as from the Department of Health, the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, and the Camden People’s Fund.