Our history

Over the past 17 years TimeBank has had some considerable achievements in helping to shape best volunteering practice in the UK. We have broken new ground in designing innovative mentoring projects with high social value.

Here are just a few highlights:

TimeBank 2000 - 2017

TimeBank is a national volunteering charity set up in 2000 funded by the Government and BBC. It was governed by many of the same trustees who set up Comic Relief and aimed to inspire a new generation to volunteer their time as Comic Relief had motivated a new generation to donate money. Whilst producing some phenomenal campaigns engaging thousands of volunteers we quickly realised the need to offer people local, flexible, meaningful and impactful opportunities that suited their lifestyles. We did this in two ways – partnering with local volunteer centres and delivering our own mentoring projects.

Time Together:

In 2002 we were funded by the Home Office to develop and deliver a cutting-edge volunteer mentoring project to integrate refugees more effectively into UK society. The project received the first nationally recognised Mentoring and Befriending Foundation accreditation in 2008 (MBF, APS). It used a social franchise model working with the smallest grassroots refugee community organisations to access those most in need and match them with a UK national. The project worked across the United Kingdom in 24 locations matching 2,500 volunteer mentors with refugees and was so successful it became part of Government policy in the Refugee Integration and Employment Service. It was to define TimeBank’s model which focussed on: volunteer led, partnership, integration, transition and working to support complex social issues previously the preserve of professionals, enhancing and supporting their roles. All our subsequent projects drew on this model and the experience we gained from it.  

Our volunteer mentoring projects 2002-2010:

Time Together: mentoring refugees across England and Scotland

Young TimeBank: mentoring young people in schools

Back to Life: matching volunteer mentors with young adults with mental health issues (awarded MBF, APS 2010)

Leaders Together: leaders from the wider charity sector supporting leaders of refugee community organisations, which later developed to business leaders supporting charity leaders in all areas

Digitall: 18-25 year old mentors matched with over 45s to support them to get online and break down intergenerational perceptions

Futures Together: Younger Muslim women supporting older Muslim women with English language and computer skills

Junction 49: encouraging young people to set up their own online social action projects.

We also ran the following UK wide campaigns: Big Arts Week, with volunteer and professional artists inspiring creativity in schools; Volunteers’ Week encouraging people to sign up to volunteer; Backing the Olympic bid, 100,000 people said they’d volunteer if we won the bid; 13 days with Help the Hospices to recruit younger volunteers into the hospice movement; Extreme Listening - Samaritans encouraging 18–24 year olds to volunteer; Crime Concern to encourage BME groups to become mentors; Mind the Gap, encouraging BME groups to volunteer in their local communities; Get on Board, in partnership with the Charity Commission to recruit trustees from diverse backgrounds; Home-start, recruiting parents to support other parents to build confidence and coping skills.

Funding cuts:

In 2011 the Government cut its strategic partners programme and as TimeBank had been primarily funded by the Government we needed to decide how best to move forward. We knew our mentoring projects offered a unique opportunity for volunteers to complement and add value to the work of professionals and that our employee volunteering service provided the skills and expertise to make effective employee volunteering happen.  So, we honed our work to focus exclusively on these two areas, never losing sight of our vision and mission – volunteers remain at the heart of everything we do.

Our Mentoring projects 2011-2017:

Carers Together: supporting carers both face to face and through our first online mentoring platform, preventing carer breakdown and working with volunteers who had previously been carers themselves. Online enabled us to break down geographical boundaries and match the most appropriate mentor with a mentee

The Switch: mentoring young people as they transitioned from child and adolescent mental health care into adult care services (awarded MBF, APS 2013)

Refugees into teaching: matching refugees who were teachers in their home country with teachers in the UK to shadow and be mentored by them

Parents First: supporting parents to get online to help their children’s development

Engage: supporting young people not in education employment or training to develop skills by managing a budget and running a small community project followed by six months mentoring

Shoulder to Shoulder, London and Birmingham: supporting veterans and their families transitioning back into civilian society

Starting Together: matching young female care leavers with a mentor before they left care - our first pre-emptive intervention to support better transition

Shoulder to Shoulder Erskine:building on our London and Birmingham projects in partnership with Scottish veterans’ charity Erskine, mentoring veterans and their families transitioning back into civilian life across the central belt of Scotland

City Opportunities: mentoring care leavers who aspired to work in the City but who had no experience or connection with it

Hidden Carers: finding and supporting people particularly from BME communities who are caring but don’t self-identify as such with volunteer-led training sessions on benefit entitlement, support networks and their own mental and physical well being

Time Together Birmingham: matching asylum seekers and refugees with a UK national to support them to integrate into UK society

Refugees into sustainable employment: mentoring refugees through the challenges of working in a new country with different professional and cultural norms.

During this period we also set up an organisational user forum chaired by a trustee to bring together volunteers, stakeholders and beneficiaries to share learning across projects and enhance our training and delivery models. We opened a second office in Birmingham and developed a partnership in Scotland to enable us to work there effectively.

Employee Volunteering:

Our first EV contract was with mobile phone company T Mobile (now EE) in 2008 and ran all their staff volunteering around offices and call centres across England, Scotland and Wales for six years – this model was developed into one off opportunities for companies wanting their staff to volunteer. Since 2015 we have worked with 1,210 corporate volunteers from 55 companies, undertaking 4,629 hours with 33 community partners in need of support.  We see this as an entry point to volunteering for many and, if we provide a quality experience, we hope they will become the mentors of the future.

Talking Together:

In 2013 we won a £1.12 million contract from the Department for Communities and Local Government to set up and run volunteer-led, basic, functional English Language classes for Muslim women predominantly from Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Somali backgrounds. The external evaluation of this project showed a social return on investment calculation of £9.31 for every £1 spent and we were awarded the MBF, APS in 2015. Since that time our contract has been renewed three times and we have developed, reviewed and enhanced our curriculum, worked with nearly 100 delivery partners and recruited and trained 300 volunteers who have taught over 3,000 women.