e-Bay, social care and the Big Society

May 11, 2011 at 1:09 pm Leave a comment

by Raj Cheema

Last month, Slivers-of-Time Markets launched a video about the impact their ‘e-bay’ software is having in the social care market. The aim of the video: getting the message across to central government that their work could be a powerful catalyst in encouraging volunteerism in the social care market – on a local level.

Slivers-of-Time Markets help organisations create an online market place where time from local people becomes the currency between time-seekers and time-givers. For example, Tesco use the Sliver of Time system as an over-booking system to enable their staff to pick extra hours of work. It lets shopworkers sign up for extra shifts in their own or other nearby stores when they have free time to do extra work.

Slivers-of-Time Markets was one of the projects that participated in Innovation Unit’s enabling independent living programme. The organisation wanted to adopt the online software for the social care market and, noting their high-potential in light of the personalising social care agenda, we connected them to six local authorities in London. By enabling individuals to contract directly with one another, Slivers-of-Time Markets opens up the labour market and places control in the hands of service users.

According to a recent report from a group of charities, nearly one in four disabled and older people have experienced cuts to services and increased charges for care, with families “pushed to breaking point”. In a survey conducted by charities including Carers UK, the Alzheimer’s Society, Macmillan Cancer Support and Scope, more than a fifth of respondents said services had been cut back even though their needs had stayed the same.

In this video, Slivers of Time talk about their work with Hertfordshire County Council. Hertfordshire have a large group of elderly people who need support but fall below the elgibility threshold. The online system enables time-seekers to find local (vetted) volunteers who can donate some time and help out with isolated elderly people. The potential of this scheme to transform the way in which social care is delivered personally has recently been noted in the Local Government Chronicle and Community Care.

Slivers-of-Time Markets is now hoping the government will support a series of regional trials to encourage local volunteers to give some time and support local authorities in meeting the needs of the vulnerable. If ever there’s going to be a success story of Big Society in action during the recession – surely this has got to be a strong contender? Good luck Slivers – we have our fingers crossed!

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