Cotswold volunteering scheme, FairShares, aims to change lives
AN INNOVATIVE volunteering scheme that allows members to get back as much as they put in has accumulated nearly 100 members in Cirencester.
FairShares, which operates a system of community time banks throughout the Cotswolds, gives people the opportunity to be a good neighbour and then for others to return the favour.
Andreas Weide, the director of the FairShares organisation in Cirencester, told the Standard: “The idea is to encourage the exchange of services and skills without handing over money. We try to bring people together through volunteering.”
The principle of FairShares is that people can donate an hour of their time to do something that they are skilled in.
With each job completed, the volunteer collects credit that he or she can then trade in to have somebody perform a job for them.
Andreas said: “We aren’t the social services. We just encourage normal, everyday people to help each other out.
“Retired people can really benefit from it. When you retire it can seem quite aimless and with the long days this can give you a sense of purpose.”
There are nine FairShares time banks across Gloucestershire with around a total of 1,000 volunteers.
The Standard spoke to Shaun Wiggins, a Cirencester volunteer who has donated nearly 1,000 hours of time since joining a year ago.
He said: “It’s dealing with similar people, with people who need something and people who can offer you something.”
Shaun, who had been unemployed for a long time before joining FairShares, was able to find a job after volunteering with Cirencester Town Council.
“It has changed my life. A year ago I was unemployed and I had nothing to put on my CV.
“Now I’m employed and off benefits and I’ve got two sterling CV references,” he said.
FairShares is open to people of all ages and specialise in helping the community out with small jobs such as dog walking or garden work.
Andreas said: “We look at the small jobs as they absolutely can make a difference.”
More information on FairShares can be found by ringing Andreas on 01285 659413 or visiting www.fairshares.org.uk.
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