About St Mary's
St Mary’s has been involved in social innovation for over half a century: working at the grass roots with local people to find new ways of strengthening the community.
We are grounded in the Christian faith that the world can be different if we apply love, trust and hope. We are prepared to take risks and try not to be afraid of failure. We recognise that no-one has a monopoly on these values and are glad to work alongside, and learn from, all people regardless of faith.
Our work has a strong theoretical foundation and is evidence based, giving us the skills and ability to generate new solutions to some of the pressing social problems of the day. We are rooted in local communities.
TimeBuilders has been running for over 5 years and is transforming lives across the city.
Our Principles: Setting goals, building relationships and being rewarded
Principle 1 : When people achieve goals they feel capable of doing more.
Albert Bandura said something very
obvious: “to pursue any goal we
need to have some confidence that
we can achieve it.”
When people set goals and achieve
them it creates confidence and
motivation which transfers to other
areas of their lives. Success breeds
The goal can be almost anything. But it needs to be judged carefully because many people live with an enduring sense of failure and it takes courage to have a goal.
Other people have goals that are too big to achieve and they don’t know where to start. Their goal needs to be broken down into manageable steps.
Over the last 2 years coaching has
become an increasingly important part of the TimeBuilders package as we learn the importance of helping people to know what they think and to set the goals that are right for them.
Principle 2 : Relationships,
Generally people are not looking for an intervention, a project or a programme. Almost always people are looking for the relationships.
Face-to-face contact with other people is the single biggest predictor of health and happiness.
Just having eye contact with someone releases oxytocin and creates feelings of well-being and trust. It lowers cortisol, reduces stress and helps you to deal with pain.
TimeBuilders is a system that helps people form relationships. Opportunities for social interaction run through everything we do. There isn’t a magic way to bring people together in sustainable communities.
Building relationships takes time, persistence and a commitment to listen to people and to earn trust. But we are learning to create the ecosystem which makes this more likely .
Principle 3: People are motivated
when they feel rewarded.
We commonly hear that people won’t volunteer because they don’t want to do “owt for nowt”. We wonder if this means that people are tired of being compelled to do meaningless things in demeaning environments as a requirement of continued State support.
Our experience is that in a purposeful and rewarding ecosystem where people are achieving something, learning something, having meaningful
interaction, then they will give huge
time and energy for “nowt”.
Rewarding activity provides the
incentive to overcome personal
difficulties. It gives you back control. It means that you are continuing to grow and be challenged, rather than waiting for something to happen.
TimeBuilders is changing the lives of people who experience social disadvantage, loneliness, poverty, unemployment and mental illness.
Many of these issues are often interconnected. TimeBuilders gives people the opportunity to feel needed and useful by making a meaningful contribution to society.
In the last 12 months TimeBuilders has worked with over 580 people in 5 different parts of Sheffield. The majority are from disadvantaged communities. (continued below)
"Volunteering at TimeBuilders has helped with my anxiety and built my confidence back up”.
"After a bad time in my life I am hoping to get back on track, and TimeBuilders has helped with that."
“I feel like I am needed because I run a weekly group. For some people its the only time they socialise.”
"TimeBuilders has been really important in my mental health recovery”.
Become a Partner
We are always looking to establish partnerships that contribute to our time-credit economy.
Here's how it works
John volunteers for two hours in our community garden and two hours doing the litter-pick. He receives four time-credits in total.
John then spends three time-credits on a football match ticket (donated to us by Sheffield United), and one time-credit on a meal in our community cafe (supplied with surplus food by FareShare).
Some of our partners are other voluntary organisations, others are commercial leisure organisations who generously support us with surplus tickets for times when they have spare capacity. Others donate their surplus food or give us space in their premises for our activities.
We could not work without the following:
Sheffield International Venues - Provide activities like swimming, skating and gym across eight facilities in Sheffield. Venues include Ponds Forge, iceSheffield and Hillsborough Leisure Centre
Sheffield Wednesday Football Club - tickets for home games
Sheffield United Football Club - tickets for home games
Sheffield Theatres - give us tickets for public dress rehearsals and first night performances
The Vine Sheffield - give us free premises for Food Cycle cafes
Cemetery Road Baptist Church - free premises for Food Cycle cafes
St Cuthbert’s Firth Park - generous terms for Food Cycle café
Tinsley Community Forum - for support and encouragement
Beanies Wholefood Co-op - for surplus food
Marks and Spencer PLC - for surplus food
Tesco - for surplus food
St Peter’s Greenhill - for volunteers and inspiration
Lowedges Community Centre - for partnership and premises
Tramlines - for festival tickets
Amey - for litter-pickers and bags
Fare Share - fantastic partner donating pallet loads of surplus food each week