Fair Shares welcomed around 100 guests for a party at it’s head office at the Chequers Bridge Centre in Gloucester, including The High Sherriff Countess Lady Bathurst, Said Hansdot Sheriff of Gloucester and the Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Gloucester Neil and Alice Hampson. Fair Shares was celebrating 18 successful years after launching in Stonehouse in 1998.
There were colourful displays representing the many Fair Shares activities from around Gloucestershire, including memory boxes and dementia-friendly walks in Stroud, the Fair Shares charity shop in Stonehouse, art and craft groups in Cheltenham and Tewkesbury – and youth work, allotments, lunch groups, woodworking and some of prison work.
Fair Shares works in partnership with the Friendship Café, All Pulling Together, City Farm, the Gloucestershire Gateway Trust and many other community groups. Hundreds of participants of all ages volunteer to help and support each other in their communities – and receive help and support in return – through the time banking system.
Jez Spencer, Fair Shares chief executive, told the gathering: “We’re in an era where we face many financial challenges. There will never be enough money, but we can recognise and redefine the resources that are available in abundance – the ‘in-kind’ contributions that support communities every day.”
“It can start as simply as helping a neighbour, but it can grow to empower whole communities, as we help people to recognise that everyone has something to offer, and can ask for help in return. We must foster a culture of giving and receiving to create the kind of world we all want to live in.”
Fair Shares receives funding from the Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner, Comic Relief and plans to match that funding with the development of social enterprises which will support local communities.