GLL, the social enterprise organisation that runs Cornwall’s 13 leisure centres on behalf of Cornwall Council, has teamed up with a national charity to offer volunteers who earn Time Credits free time in the gym or pool.

St Austell Leisure Centre was the first to launch the scheme in August, closely followed by Truro which started accepting the credits in early September. GLL’s other leisure facilities are expected to do the same soon.

The Time Credits programme has been developed by Spice, an award-winning charity that encourages individuals to get involved with their local community through volunteering. Cornwall Council has commissioned Spice to work with vulnerable adults – giving them the chance to earn Time Credits that can then be spent with a range of businesses and organisations in the leisure, sports, arts, culture and training sectors.

Kevin Watson is a resident at Cosgarne Hall in St Austell, where accommodation and support is provided to homeless people. He has been working at Cosgarne Farm and was excited to attend the St Austell Leisure Centre launch.

“I really enjoy volunteering and giving something back to the community,” he said. “Having the opportunity to earn Time Credits in the process is a real bonus. Without them, I couldn’t afford to use the gym and going there gives me a sense of purpose, whilst also helping me stay fit and healthy.”

Rachel Battleday leads the Time Credits programme at Cosgarne. She said: “Volunteering is an integral part of what we offer for both our residents and the wider community. Accessing the leisure centre boosts people’s self-esteem and is a great way of being able to say thank you for the wonderful work the volunteers do.”

GLL was the country’s first leisure trust and is a not-for-profit organisation that serves local communities.

“We’re really pleased to be working with Spice and helping reward people who give up their time for the benefit of others,” said Karen Edmond, GLL’s Cornwall Partnership Community Sports Manager. “The scheme is now up and running in St Austell, where 25 credits have been redeemed in the last 8 weeks, and Truro which began accepting them this week. Newquay and Bodmin leisure centres are likely to be next.”