About us

About TimeBuilders

TimeBuilders in an initiative of

St Mary's Community Centre.

This page tells you all about us.


Our Mission Statement

Using time-credits to create networks of friends who do the work needed to make people and communities stronger.

There is so much work to do in our communities that the council or government cannot pay for such as; work which addresses loneliness and isolation, work which provides welcoming spaces for people who feel abandoned, the work of turning waste food into meals which nourish body and soul, the work of caring for others informally.
Thankfully, this is meaningful work. Our aim is to involve people in getting it done.

Many chronic health difficulties do not respond to medication, and are caused by how people feel about their lives. It is estimated that 30% of GP appointments are for non-medical reasons; fundamentally because people are lonely and have nothing meaningful to do.
We know that people’s self-esteem grows when they are defined by what they do and how they contribute, rather than their needs or problems. This is our focus.

The TimeBuilders Story


Our story begins in a neighbourhood similar to the one you live in. There is lots of need, but also lots of surplus.
There are people struggling to put food on the table, but there are shops that throw food away. There’s a young mum who’s kids keep growing, but also a lady who loves to sew. There’s a young man with things to fix in his flat, but also a gentleman with skills at the tips of his fingers. There is a lady who says her English is ‘little’, but she has warmth and kindness to share.

There are front yards that seem to grow only litter, but there are people who want to grow vegetables. There’s a retired man who feels loneliness creeping up on him, but also other men who know they need each other more later in life. There groups looking for places to meet, but also buildings with rooms that are unused.

As you can tell in this neighbourhood, as well as yours, there is lots of work to do but there are also people prepared to do it.

Our story is about using what is close at hand to solve the problems that surround us; creating projects that make our communities healthy and happy places to live in.

Volunteering with TimeBuilders allows anyone to contribute with whatever they have. We make it easy to your skills, knowledge and passions and time to make a difference to the lives of others.


Our Impact:  2017-18

We have over 400 members

12,912 time-credits earned

7,866 time-credits spent

Download our Annual Report here:

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”.


TimeBuilders Membership


Focus on your strengths
Our aim is to find the best things about everyone and make good use of them.
You may have some hidden talents, forgotten skills, bags of experience or just plenty of spare time. We call them Assets and we focus on those rather than problems or needs.
Being a member of TimeBuilders means finding out what you can contribute and helping you join in.

Making a Change
Membership of TimeBuilders works best for people who want to make changes in their lives, who need a period of inspiration, encouragement and support.
We always encourage members to try new things, because being part of a team, doing purposeful work is often more important than the actual task.

Events and networks
As a member you will be invited to all our social events; from quiz nights and board-games afternoons, concerts and performances, simple social cafes and festive parties.

Next steps
We don’t expect members to become dependent upon time-credits. TimeBuilders should not become a new life-style, but rather a stepping stone to other activities, other volunteering or work.
Getting involved for a short period can help you move forward in life; building your confidence, giving you experience in team work, leadership, inter-personal skills, and of course a network of friends and acquaintances.

Become a Partner

We are always looking to establish partnerships that contribute to our time-credit economy.

If you have surplus tickets, spare goods or services, or down-time that needs filling please email: james.starky@timebuilders.org.uk

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:

FoodCycle is a national network dedicated to reducing food waste and food poverty. We have learned so much from them
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



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 nearly 3 years and is transforming lives across the city. 

Our most recent social innovation is The Art House which takes a radical and asset based approach to the challenges of mental health.
Find out more here.


Our Principles


Asset-based Community Work

The traditional approach to solving problems within society is to isolate the problem and look for single solutions. This means that people are asked a particular sort of question: “What is wrong here, what is wrong with you?”
We think it is not helpfull to define people by their problems or what they lack. Instead we use an ‘asset-based’ approach which means focuing on what is positive and making it part of a solution.
The question then becomes “What is right here, what are you doing that is strong and competent and connecting.” This approach find assets in ordinary people. It releases energy, creativity and commitment from people who are typically used to being treated as passive recipients of services.

Social Networks
Our communities are made of a multitude of networks that link friends and families, groups and societies, organisations and institutions. Networks are strongest when people make exchanges within them. When people cannot make economic exchanges, our communities are often thought of as ‘poor’ and under-valued by the mainstream economy.
However, we know that people have plenty of other things to exchange; skills, talents, knowledge, time, friendship and community spirit. But when networks within a community are weakened, people find it harder to share these positive things.
By bringing people together, explicitly to share their assets and make good use of them, we enable community networks to be re-built.


To navigate through life’s challenges, each of us needs social networks to provide support and to remind us that we matter.Happy, resilient people are able to draw upon a large number of acquaintances to share advice, tips, and to have fun.


The greater an individual’s network of acquaintances, the greater their resilience in difficult times.We hope that our members can broaden their social networks of friends and acquaintances through earning and spending time-credits.


Our Team


Aroose Uppal
Project Manager: responsible for our Speak English Programme, our Family Activity Days.

Christine Batchford
Development Officer: responsible for our FoodCycle projects and activities taking place in the west of the city, centred around St Bart’s and St Stephen’s (The Vine).

Graham Duncan
Director of St Mary’s Centre: responsible for management, funding and strategy.

James Starky
Team Leader: responsible co-ordinating projects, and communication.

Lisa Spink
Development Officer: responsible for developing leadership among members.

Maia Salman-Lord
Project Support Officer: responsible for daily activities at St Mary’s, and recruitment.

Nadia Asghar
Development Officer: co-ordinates the Beyond Beauty and Appreciative Inquiry programmes, and is responsible for activities taking place in the North and East of Sheffield, in Fir Vale, Tinsley and Norfolk Park.

Paul Roberts
Community Gardens Officer: responsible for our communal workshop St Mary’s Mesters, and for our growing projects in several locations, St Mary’s, St Bart’s and St Cuthbert’s.