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Spice is a social enterprise that has developed a unique time-based printed currency called Time Credits. They work across health and social care, housing, community development and education, supporting organisations and services to use Time Credits to achieve their outcomes. So far almost 30,000 people have earned Time Credits, and approximately 450,000 Time Credits have been issued across England and Wales.

What CSAIF funded:

Spice were given £343,972 to expand their model in London, Lancashire and the East of England. View the full impact evaluation.

About the evaluation

Level on Standards: Level 1 - You can describe what you do and why it matters, logically, coherently and convincingly.

Aim: Through its evaluation, Spice intends to measure the local and national impact of Time Credits on individuals and communities.

Evaluator: Apteligen

Key findings: The findings highlighted three key areas of impact: quality of life, health and wellbeing; building stronger communities and building individual capacity, creating new opportunities.

  1. Quality of life, health and wellbeing: There is a recognition that social contact is an important factor for wellbeing and this report finds that 60% of individuals are increasing their levels of social contact as a result of Time Credits. The adverse effects of isolation and loneliness are well documented and these findings point to Time Credits supporting key aspects of improving and maintaining independence, health and wellbeing. Currently 58% of respondents report feeling healthier and commentary by participants suggests that many people are spending their Time Credits on physical activity such as gyms and swimming pools.
  2. Building stronger communities: Time Credits continue to support the development of stronger communities with 77% of respondents agreeing that they have taken part in more community activity as a result of Time Credits. 48% of respondents reported being more likely to get important needs of theirs met because they were part of a local community. 13% of respondents reported having started a new community group as a result of Time Credits.
  3. Building individual capacity and creating opportunities: Among people in this group, Time Credits are seen as a means to do things they couldn’t otherwise afford to do, which leads to greater financial and social inclusion’. Whilst this is particularly the case for lower income families, this survey found that even in households on higher incomes, individuals do not always have a lot of disposable income and Time Credits can still make it possible for families to undertake activities together. It was found that a third of members had gained work experience and 6% reported getting into employment as a result of Time Credits.

Methodology: An annual survey was distributed to Time Credits participants between April and May 2015. Some results were compared to a previous annual evaluation survey distributed between July 2012 and December 2014. All members participating in the Time Credits scheme were surveyed - 439 individuals completed the questionnaire.

Why this Level: Spice have delivered an evaluation that seemingly suggests change over time for the individuals that it supports. The report is clearly written, with some good retrospective and interview based data. However, there are some key areas for improvement Spice will need to address to be considered for validation at Level 2.

These include:

  • referencing Spice’s theory of change and measurement tools, so that the reader can clearly understand the outcomes being measured, and how they were measured
  • utilising a pre-/post- evaluation methodology, so change in the measured outcomes can be attributed to Spice’s intervention
  • discussing data analysis (the methodology used to interpret the findings of the evaluation)
  • a detailed discussion of some of the limitations of the evaluation. This could cover e.g. weaknesses of the chosen methodology, sampling issues and an exploration of the approrpriateness of chosen measures.

About the evidence journey

Progress: We have reviewed our approach to measuring impact and will be, over time, implementing a revised approach to evaluation taking on many of these recommendations. In particular we are:

  • Examining the best ways for us to baseline and compare pre and post evaluation responses to understand the specific impact of Time Credits
  • Increasingly integrating our theory of change model into how we plan and do evaluation, as well as how we communicate it externally
  • Working with our partner organisations to understand some of the wider impacts of our work on organisations, individual services and wider communities
  • We are also beginning to explore ways to segment our evaluation enabling increased focus and investment on specific elements of our impact for example health outcomes and our work in schools.

Lessons learned: We have come on a significant journey over the past few years on understanding the direct and indirect impacts of Time Credits on individuals, organisations and communities. We gained enormous knowledge in the process and this now will enable us to focus on areas of weakness particularly around specific attribution and what methods work well in our very diverse programmes across health, care, community development and housing.

Next steps: We will be reviewing and writing a new evaluation plan for Spice taking on this learning. This plan will address both the methodological aspects that require focus but also how we can continue to understand our impact in the many contexts we work and how we can work with and use the expertise of our partners in this process. Future planning will take into account the dual needs we have to understand our broad impact across all our work and also the specific impacts we have in particular contexts and settings. We will also be examining how we use data from our programmes to support and explain our understanding of impact.