How time banks boost people’s self-worth


How time banks boost people’s self-worth

By Timebanking UK

It can be dizzying to navigate through the variety of local organisations, projects and schemes that might work for people. One organisation you might come across or that can help is a locally-based time bank.

What is a time bank?

Anyone can join a time bank, whether they’re in or out of work, disabled or able-bodied, old or young. Timebanking is a way of sharing time and skills without money; members can earn credits by baking cakes, playing cards, chatting, sharing gardening expertise, teaching people how to do origami – there are as many options as there are individuals!

A social prescribing project

Alison and Kemi run Paxton Green Time Bank, which was formed by a GP who wanted to use social prescribing to cut the rate of visits to the medical practice because patients were feeling isolated and low. There are two Link Workers operating within the CCG, working with the time bank and other local partners.

Kemi explains, “We’re a health and wellbeing time bank and our demographic is predominately vulnerable individuals.

“Not all our members have access to the internet; some don’t engage with any technology and have no interest in doing so.

“We use our resources to ensure all our members can engage in timebanking. It’s really important that the coordinator communicates with all our members, and we have skills that help new members engage in timebanking, which helps people build relationships in their community.”

Poetry and quizzes

The time bank is a haven for all kinds of talents, says Kemi: “One Paxton Green time bank member is a published poet. They earn time credits by writing poetry and performing at events, and they then spend their credits getting help around the home occasionally or requesting company for a trip to the nail salon”.

“Another member’s past life was as a biology scientist and university lecturer. They earn credits by giving talks on health such as diabetes. They also have a wealth of knowledge in many areas and they create quizzes for group activities, with the assistance of another member who earns credits typing up the quizzes. The time bank member, who’s visually impaired, spends her credits taking part in day trips and group activities, and another member regularly visits to help them manage their post. We send out a special version of the time bank bulletin in large font so she stays involved in what’s going on at the time bank.”

The time bank is a haven for all kinds of talents, says Kemi: “One Paxton Green time bank member is a published poet. They earn time credits by writing poetry and performing at events, and they then spend their credits getting help around the home occasionally or requesting company for a trip to the nail salon”.

A case study

Sam is plagued by pain and generally poor health, and this had limited her social interaction, leaving her feeling isolated and unhappy.

As a disabled member, Sam found joining her local time bank in Settle has enabled her to get really involved in the wider community.

Unlike traditional volunteering, where people often need to commit to a regular slot, timebanking allows members to make arrangements as they choose – this is perfect for Sam, as she has the flexibility to participate as and when she is able.

Sam earns time credits by hub-sitting for Settle Community and Business Hub, which has allowed her to forge new links so she no longer feels isolated. She has also used her time credits to take part in events that she would not otherwise have been able to afford, including workshops such as Year Planning and Chinese Brush Painting. Sam has also used her credits for several sessions on techniques that have helped her to manage her social anxiety better.

Sam and her wife also enjoyed a rare weekend away, as she was able to arrange for guinea pig sitting by another member of the time bank.

Do you think a time bank would fit in where you live or work? Have questions? Contact Timebanking UK info@timebanking.org

Timebanking UK is the only membership organisation in the country to offer support, resources and inspiration to community time banks.

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