Rochester Messy Play: Flexibility For Volunteers

Rochester Messy Play is a weekly play group attended by children aged 0-5 and their guardians. As a Sure Start activity in Rochester, Medway, it had offered a play group with stimulating activities for children, but the service ceased in October 2017 due to funding cuts.

Two Rochester-based mums, who had attended the service regularly with their children, felt the group was too valuable to lose and decided to relaunch it as an entirely volunteer run group.

Through social media, the two parents were able to source donations for play materials and publicise the relaunch of their group. To get their project off the ground and driven by their passion to see the project succeed the two volunteers covered the first month of the venue hire fee themselves.

Soon after they heard about Time Credits and started using them to involve the adults who attended their group in helping them to run it.

Emma, one of the two founding members, says Time Credits have brought them benefits in a number of ways:

Recruiting and Retaining Volunteers 

From starting with just 2 volunteers and 11 families attending, they have now engaged 10 people in volunteering and draw 40 – 50 children every week. Time Credits have aided in maintaining consistent volunteer engagement as they regularly want to get involved and give their time.

Greater Flexibility for Volunteers 

Often people drop out of volunteering due to commitment issues, but Time Credits have enabled people to volunteer whenever they are able and give what time what they can.

Time Credits can be earned for a variety of roles at Messy Play, including preparing and serving fruit to children, or leading a sing-song at the end of a session.

Emma adds up all the small contributions of time people have given every 6 weeks or so and distributes the Time Credits accordingly.

“We have one lady who has a difficult toddler with her and feels that she can’t help as much as others. But we value what she can offer and give her Time Credits”

Valuing Volunteers 

Most of the people who volunteer with Rochester Messy Play are stay-at-home mothers. Time Credits have provided a way for the group to show their volunteers that their contribution is valuable.

“We check in on each other and help each other out in this group. Lots of women naturally support other women, but without any recognition. Time Credits is our recognition.”

Affording to do more 

For people who are not in paid employment, there can be a feeling that they are not contributing fully to their family. Earning Time Credits and having access to the Time Credits Spend Network has helped volunteers to do more with their families, including activities they may not otherwise have been able to afford to do.

Emma has been able to take her children and their grandfather on MBNA Thames Clippers to visit Tower of London and Tower Bridge. These trips would have been too expensive without Time Credits.

Building a Stronger Community 

Time Credits help volunteers and the wider community to do more together. Emma was also able to donate Time Credits to members of a local school’s PTA to thank them for their hard work. As a result of this gift, they were able to go tobogganing at Chatham Snowboarding Centre together