Volunteering charity TimeBank to close

The charity has struggled to adapt services and maintain necessary funding during the pandemic

The volunteering charity TimeBank has revealed it is to close after struggling to maintain adequate funding for its projects. 

The charity, which was set up in 2000 to recruit and train volunteers to deliver projects that tackle complex social problems, said it had struggled to maintain funding during the pandemic and intended to shut down at the end of January. 

TimeBank said it had planned to close in a responsible way that caused the least impact to its staff, volunteers and service users, but two people will lose their jobs. 

The charity said it had a small amount of unrestricted reserves remaining, which would be donated to the equality charity the Black Training and Enterprise Group, which announced earlier this month that it planned to change its name to Action for Race Equality

Andy Forster, interim chief executive of TimeBank, said the charity, which had an income of £831,000 in the year to the end of March 2020, had encountered an “increasing reluctance” among funders to back medium-sized charities such as TimeBank, which fell between small grassroots project funding and large projects of more than £1m a year. 

“TimeBank has always specialised in face-to-face volunteer mentoring, and recently in volunteer-led English language teaching for marginalised women,” said Forster. 

“Although we tried to take these projects online when the pandemic struck, we found that many of our beneficiaries didn’t have access to the technology, didn’t understand it or were reluctant to use it.”

Stuart Crotaz, chair of TimeBank, said: “Charities like ours are the grassroots of civil society. However, they have been hit by falling revenues and the shift from grant funding to commissioned contracts and service delivery. 

“This means there has been less support for volunteering, even though demand is increasing to support those people and communities hardest hit by Covid-19.”  

Croatz said the organisation was very proud of its achievements over the past 20 years. 

“We hope that going forward, policymakers and funders will recognise that volunteering is not cost-free – it needs an infrastructure to support it, be that local volunteer centres or volunteering organisations like TimeBank,” he said. 

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