What is Timebanking?
It’s a simple concept: a way for people to come together and help each other by exchanging knowledge, help and skills. For every hour participants deposit in a timebank, perhaps by giving practical help and support to others, they are able to withdraw equivalent support in time when they themselves are in need. In each case the participant decides what they can offer. You may be able to mow grass, trim hedges, teach people to read, iron clothes or wash windows. Everyone’s time is equal, so one hour of a person’s time is equal to one hour of the next person’s time, irrespective of the activity.
Timebank coordinators match people’s skills, arrange time exchanges and keep a record of all the members’ “banked hours”.
How does an exchange work?
A Timebank member can choose to give one hour of their time taking an older person to the local shops and in return can spend that earned time on anything that other Timebank members are offering, perhaps help with gardening for example, or receiving some computer training or companionship. It’s a simple method for developing communities.
What can a timebank do for you?
More than you think. Here’s a real life Cambridgeshire based case-study:
“Four years ago I had a breakdown. Not the best start to a story but there it is. From having a career, raising children, being superwoman, I became a terrified nervous wreck. I was frightened of everything and everyone. I couldn’t go out, answer the door or do any of the things that give us a normal life. Then I moved to Cambourne and that was step one. Step two, I was told about the Timebank. Step three, I became brave enough to join.
At first, I thought that I would need many more hours than I could give: I told myself, I can’t really do anything properly, my only talent was connected to my previous career and to be quite honest, that did not end well. Sitting with Laura (the local timebank coordinator) in our local volunteer run cafe, I suddenly realised: Hang on: I can wash-up.
One tentative suggestion later, I now give six hours a week and sometimes more and I don’t just wash-up.
At another meeting I was asked by ninety years young Joan if I could shorten some pyjama bottoms for her: Sure I can sew..!! Then there is Louise who needs help with her ironing: Wow, another thing I can do. One year ago I would only leave my flat if I absolutely had to, and only then with medication. Now I help out at the cafe, I meet many different people, we laugh, we joke and gossip, and sometimes have a good old moan..!!
So what does a timebank do..? It makes you appreciate your value, it builds communities. More than anything else, it has rebuilt my confidence and made me realise that I can do anything I put my mind to..!!”
And here’s some further timebanking examples from across the county:
One of the ladies who joined the timebank last year felt isolated and out of the loop within her community. By attending the coffee mornings, she has reconnected herself back into the community in which she lives and says “joining the timebank has saved my life”. She now contributes regularly to local events and helps fellow timebank members.
Somersham timebank helped connect a Barclays bank staff team with the Windsor Court Sheltered Housing scheme, whose garden was in desperate need of a makeover. Members of the timebank mapped out the garden redesign, with Luminus Housing and Barclays supplying all of the materials and tools, borrowed from a local nature reserve. A team of 16 then helped to renovate the garden, building, digging and painting their way to the finish line.
So, timebanking helps to strengthen communities: It builds social networks of people who give and receive support from each other, enabling people to come together and form ever lasting connections and friendships.
Timebanks need your help
Timebanks rely on the goodwill of people, organisations and communities to work. Click here to find out how your business or organisation can help.
Key Timebanking contacts
Cambridgeshire has a number of timebanks across the County, but there’s always room for more.
So, if you are thinking of establishing a timebank where you live, why not contact one of our existing timebanks and see how they started, what they do, and how they do it.
Houghton & Wyton
Littleport and Ely
Fiona and Phil
01223 832470 or 07585 132213
Somersham and Pidley
01487 841359 or 07443 619017
01487 814897 (Mon-Wed)
St Ives & Fenstanton
01480 404184 or 07590 909057