Time Bank gets spooky with a half term crafty fun day


North Herts CVS Time Bank, the community skills share project, hosted a free Halloween themed event last week. The fun day was held in Letchworth’s Brotherhood Hall, and over a hundred people came along to take part in lots of different craft activities!

craft table

The event, which fell in the half term break, was set up to encourage new and existing Time Bank members to get involved and to demonstrate how Time Banking is a great way to volunteer, even for busy families. Time Bankers relished the opportunity to share their crafting skills with people of all ages, making spooky themed face masks, decorating ghoulish cakes and crafting pipe cleaner creepy crawlies!

jack o lantern

I had great fun showing the children how to make flapping bats from wool and card, as well as paper Jack-o-Lanterns…. and I think the children had just as much fun! It’s always a pleasure to share crafting skills to earn Time Bank credits, and this event was a great chance to show people what we do and what they can get involved in. We had members sharing lots of skills, including knitting and crochet classes, cake decorating, and origami, which really shows how diverse our collective skill base is!

cake decorating

Time Bank Development Worker Nicki worked hard to publicise the event in order to encourage families to sign up as Time Bankers, and the fantastic turn out was testament to how the scheme is a great way to be a part of the community.

colouring in

In addition to their crafting skills, current Time Bank members boast a broad range of skills including IT coaching, sewing alterations, language lessons, dog walking, child care, DIY, gardening and help with filling in forms. Skills exchanges can really be anything members need help with, and every hour a member earns through their chosen skills is then banked ready for them to spend when they need help themselves…. I’ll be saving up the hours I earned at the craft event for when I next need a dog sitter!

The Time Bank, which operates across North Herts, Buntingford, Royston and Stevenage, has grown immeasurably in recent months and offers a great way to help develop local communities and increase social interaction. It’s free and easy to join too…. just visit www.mytimebank.org.uk, call 01462 689405 or email timebank@nhcvs.org.uk to join now.

A post by Time Banker, Emily

Volunteering as a driver, and a fun visit to the farm


I have been volunteering for the Community Transport department of NHCVS since January, and also help out in the Volunteer Centre when time permits.

There was an opportunity to assist a project called Breakaway Playscheme; they were short of a driver for their minibus, which would have meant the group couldn’t go on an outing to Church Farm in Ardley. So I willingly volunteered my time, arrangements were finalised and off we went on the day.

Playscheme supports mixed ability youth so this was a valuable opportunity for enrichment.

The weather was nice enough that a walk around the farm was possible, the youngsters seeing various animals – lambs, piglets and ducks were in abundance. There was also a tractor trailer ride for everyone who had been well behaved, which obviously meant everyone who wanted to go was able to.

I get asked a lot about why I give my time freely, but when you can see the faces of both the adults and the children enjoying themselves it becomes apparent.

A post by Tom, NHCVS Volunteer

Racing cars, meerkats and pirates….. Being a Breakaway Play Assistant


Breakaway Plus is a Saturday club and holiday playscheme for children with moderate to severe disabilities and challenging behaviour run by NHCVS.  I’ve been working as a play assistant there for almost 6 years now and I still enjoy it just as much as the day I started. The children’s ages range from 5 up to 19 years old which is great as it gives us time to build a strong relationship with each child and it’s fantastic watching them grow and progress over the years.

Before I first began working at Breakaway, I had been looking for a fun and active job that was more rewarding than any other standard jobs out there and Breakaway fitted perfectly. I have to admit I was terrified to begin with, having no previous experience I really wanted to jump in and get to know the children but I was worried about how they would react around a strange new person and I didn’t want to patronise them. Within the first hour though I had completely forgotten all my worries and found myself making a racing car out of chairs, boxes and blankets!


Breakaway gives the children an opportunity to socialise with others their own age which they might not get otherwise. Apart from school, a lot of children with severe special needs struggle with leaving home and being around other people and so a regular playscheme gives them a familiar space where they can feel comfortable and take part in activities without feeling pressured. It also gives the parents some time to themselves for a few hours which especially in the school holidays is invaluable.

One of the things I love most about working at Breakaway is how no two days are ever the same. One day I could be taking the older children out bowling and then the next dressed up as a pirate and singing along to Bob the builder! Since we all know how easily children can get bored when stuck in the same environment every day, we arrange some fantastic activities inside the playscheme and on day trips out. We recently had a man bring in some exotic animals for the children to see including a meerkat, an armadillo and a tarantula. Sometimes I’m not sure who enjoys the activities more, the staff or the children!


Although I love my job, it’s not without its challenges. The job demands a huge amount of patience and you have to be prepared to get a little messy! I do have to remind myself sometimes that the children are there because they have specific needs that other clubs can’t accommodate. There are rules that may need to be adapted to fit with their specific needs and level of understanding. Any child can have a bad day and it can be really difficult to see someone who’s normally so happy not getting along but it’s such a great feeling when a child has come in feeling upset and you’ve helped to cheer them up. The other staff and volunteers I work with are so friendly and positive and on days where it is challenging it feels great to have them there to support you.

Working at Breakaway for so many years has taught me some invaluable skills. I’ve learnt how to think on my feet, stay calm under pressure and of course, how to multitask. It’s also given me a lot more confidence, it’s impossible to get involved and play around with the children when you’re worrying about how ridiculous you might look!


Now that I’m about to graduate from University I’m starting to think about a full time job and what area I’d like to go into but I’ve had such a great time at Breakaway I can’t bear the thought of leaving. The children and staff I’ve got to know have really changed my perspective and I’ve come to realise that I’d rather spend my time in a career that’s rewarding than pursuing whatever has the highest salary. Because Breakaway only takes place on Saturdays and during the holidays, it’s easy to fit around a regular job and so I’ll be putting my multitasking skills to good use and continue to work at Breakaway no matter what else I choose to do.

A post by Carey, Breakaway Play Assistant

If you’d like to find out more about attending or volunteering at our playschemes, please see our website , email breakaway@nhcvs.org.uk or call 01462 689406.

Photos courtesy of Sharon Cooper Photography