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Yearly Archive for 2015

How time banking is making a difference to patients’ lives – David Boyle

Original article published on on Friday, 6th Feb 2015

clocks-parkTime banking works a bit like a babysitting circle. When you help someone out, you earn time, and when you need help yourself, you spend time. Photograph: Martin Gerten/EPA


15 years ago, my colleagues and I held a party in Catford to celebrate the launch of the first time bank in a UK health centre.

The idea was to make mutual support possible among patients, their families and their neighbours, and I wanted to see if it would work in the UK. I was working for the New Economics Foundation at the time, and we teamed up with one of the Rushey Green doctors, Richard Byng.

He was worried about how little he was able to do for patients for whom pills were not really an adequate, sustainable solution; those who were isolated, with long-term depression and a range of other conditions where social issues were as important as pharmaceutical ones.

The doctors refer patients they think would benefit, and members stay in touch via coordinators and other members, offering or requesting help.

It works a bit like a babysitting circle. When you help someone out, often with something very simple – lifts, gardening, phone support – you earn time, and when you need help yourself, you spend time. If you need companionship, or a lift to the shops or the surgery, or even someone to phone you, the time bank can sort it out.

It worked. A decade and a half on, the Rushey Green Time Bank is still going strong, and still making a difference to people’s lives – and in the opposite way to most charitable endeavour.

Yes, members provide people with what they need – but they do something much more unusual: they make people feel needed too, often people who have always received and come to believe those around them didn’t need them. Feeling useful is a basic human need, and time banks provide the infrastructure that allows people to do so.

It goes a lot broader than health – visiting, befriending, changing lightbulbs, checking people are OK when they’ve been discharged from hospital, and so on. The menu is limited only by what the other members can do.

The Rushey Green evaluations were unanimous that it was making a difference to people – not just broadening their social networks but helping people with their symptoms, especially those with both physical and mental issues combined. So it was odd that so few health centres have copied it (though some have, Paxton Green for example).

At the launch of Nesta’s People-Powered Health project last year, a senior doctor explained that – when it comes to radical innovation like this – evidence isn’t enough. You have to overcome the real inertia of the system.

Timebanking UK, the time banking support group, ran a project with the Department of Health to encourage links between GPs and time banks – to make the involvement of patients in the delivery of services a reality. The experience was the same – the nurses got stuck in and it made a difference. The doctors tended to get a bit stuck.

It may not be their fault. And it is true that evidence isn’t enough, but there is now a great deal of evidence, anecdotal and otherwise, about how best to involve patients in this way and what it makes possible – from the pioneering work of the huge Voluntary Nursing Service of New York (VNSNY) to the time banks of Colchester, Westminster and Cheshire, which were among those in the frontline of the UK project.

VNSNY recently handed its time bank, with 3,000 members across New York City, over to a big Catholic charity. With the help of its members, it means that care can go a lot further and a lot deeper than the familiar rushed visit.

The time certainly seems to have arrived when the NHS as we know it, personal and human-scale, is going to have a tough time if it continues to ignore the resources its patients represent.

So how can we mainstream a radical but effective idea? My book (co-written with Sarah Bird) about time banks and health, Give and Take, suggests that we need time banks to be part of a multi-agency preventive infrastructure at local level.

We suggest that every public sector provider or contractor should be asked how they plan to help rebuild social networks – and how they plan to encourage mutual support among users.

How they answer the question is up to them – this is designed to encourage innovation, after all – but one way would be to embed a time bank in the service, use time credits in some other way, or contract with a time banking organisation nearby.

It has turned out to be difficult for this kind of supportive, mutual infrastructure to be funded as a standalone service, however much money it saves mainstream services. We need to put the responsibility firmly on services, and public service contractors, to explain how they will fund the time banks that can transform their services, and to fulfil their obligations to encourage mutual support.

David Boyle is the co-author (with Sarah Bird) of Give and Take: How Timebanking is transforming healthcare


What is the national Timebanking UK Quality Mark?

The Timebanking UK Quality Mark™ is awarded to time banks that adhere to the core values of timebanking and operate in such a way that they develop, support and celebrate good timebanking practice as recommended by Timebanking UK.   Please be aware that until a time bank has been ‘trading’ for a minimum of one year we will be unable to assess your application Once awarded, the Quality Mark™ will be valid for 3 years and will entitle the time bank to use the Quality Mark™ logo on their administrative and publicity materials. It will also appear on the Timebanking UK website.  We may undertake random quality audits at any time during the 3 years to ensure standards are being maintained.  At the end of the 3 years, a renewal application will need to be made.

How do you apply?

Download a form from Timebanking UK HERE and answer questions on your membership, your policies, software, governance, finance and whether you use all models of timebanking and coproduction.  IT COSTS NOTHING but you have to be a member of Timebanking UK to apply.  The Board of Trustees will take each application to their meetings and give feedback or approval.



The Board of Trustees were extremely impressed by the applications and were more than happy to award the Quality Mark to each of them. “These Quality Marks strengthen the ethos and integrity of the Timebanking UK movement and were welcomed by the Board of Trustees”    Dan Grainger.

Time Banking in Tameside

timebanking-tameside-logoTime Banking in Tameside is run by Community Voluntary Action Tameside (CVAT).

As the leading support and development agency for voluntary, community and faith groups in Tameside, our overarching mission is to build and support a strong and vibrant voluntary and community action in Tameside. We aim to do this through the provision of our development services, offering community and faith groups and organisations grass roots support; our networks, offering you the chance to make connections and have influence; and our volunteer support services, offering support to individuals and those organisations involving volunteers.

“This is fantastic news thank you so much, wish we had applied sooner. We are so thrilled.”

Julie Cunliffe, Time Bank Broker, Time Banking in Tameside

Fair Shares Community Time Banks

Fair Shares Logo

At Fair Shares we realise it is the little things that can make a big difference. By providing people with a way to share their skills and experience within their local area, we hope to bring people together, building stronger more resilient communities using Time Banking.

” We are extremely proud to have been awarded this quality mark. Fair Shares was the first ever time bank in the UK and we continue to have a fantastic presence right across Gloucestershire and the South West prisons. Working hard to support community development and the vital values of equality, reciprocity and inclusion amongst others. We are grateful to all of our participants and partners in shaping the future of the local economies and we look forward to helping others do the same. Through 2016 we will be working closely with TBUK to disseminate some of our learning and share in the ever important reality of the need for more evaluation”

Jez Spencer, CEO, Fair Shares

Give and Take Time

Give and Take Time Logo

Give and Take Time aims to build on existing community spirit, widen community capacity and build community resilience within Northill Parish. We hope to engage with and bring together as many people as possible to reduce isolation, provide support, lend a helping hand and have fun.

 â€śWe are delighted to have received national recognition for the time and effort taken to ensure the quality of our time bank. Thanks to all the members and directors who have made this possible and thanks to Timebanking UK together with Voluntary and Community Action, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire for all their help and support along the way. Special thanks to Sarah, Ian and Nicki whose infinite patience with all our queries is a lifeline we could not do without. Last but not least thanks to the timebanking community as a whole who have shared their expertise, making the whole setting up process so much easier and safer”

Stephanie Bennett, Director, Give & Take Time

Dumfries & Galloway Timebanking Network

Nithsdale, Stewartry, Annandale & Eskdale Time Banks

Dumfries and Galloway Logo

Bringing communities together. An exciting way for people to come together in their communities and organisations to share talents and resources in a mutually beneficial way, without the need for money. Funded by Putting You First, a partnership between Dumfries and Galloway Council, NHS Dumfries & Galloway and Third and Independent Sectors; working together to provide better health, support and care services for older people.

“Our time bank members are so happy with this outcome. Annandale and Eskdale Timebanks has 140 active members and is still growing weekly. We believe everyone is able to contribute no matter what age and skill and anything is possible.”

Mia Glendinning, Annandale and Eskdale Time Broker

“The Nithsdale and Stewartry Time Banks are delighted to have national recognition for all of the hard work that has gone into setting them up and into building the network in Dumfries and Galloway. Time banking is making a really positive impact across the region; to find out more please visit

Sharon Ogilvie, Project Development Officer

Rushey Green Time Bank, Catford, London

rusheygreenlogo“Our vision is to achieve a cohesive community in the Rushey Green area, where neighbours know neighbours and can rely on each other for help and support. Where people of different ages, cultures, backgrounds and abilities interact with each other on an equal footing and with mutual respect and understanding.” rusheygreenbanner

Community Volunteers Time Bank, Bromley, Kent

“CVTB is a different way of volunteering. Giving and receiving (reciprocity), equality and co-production are at the heart of the CVTB. CVTB members co-produce (design and deliver) services for older people and deliver them alongside Age UK Bromley & Greenwich staff.” CommunityTimeBank ageUK



Opportunity Knocks Timebank, Plymouth

“We have been working with individuals, communities and OpportunityKnocksTB2organisations in and around Plymouth for 30 years and pride ourselves in putting people at the heart of everything we do. Our vision is to inspire and empower people to achieve their independence and aspirations and “make a difference” to individuals, groups and communities in Plymouth and surrounding areas.” Twitter: @OKTimebank opportunityColebrook

HOurBank, Pecan, Peckham, London

HOurBank“Here at the HOurBank we are building a community by simply helping one another. Community building helps people find friends outside of their usual circles, gives them experience and confidence in the skills they love, while making them feel valued.” Twitter: @Pecan7 HOurbankPecan

Our Time Time Bank, Liverpool

“We are a time banking project which aims to tackle the social isolation faced by adults in the Liverpool area who suffer from mental health issues. The project takes a new approach by supporting individuals to engage with their local community, access services and rebuild their confidence. We create opportunities for people with mental health problems to exchange their skills and time and thereby improve their mental health by incorporating the five ways to wellbeing: connecting, giving, learning, taking notice and being active.” Twitter: @rfmentalhealth Richmond







Lee Fair Share, Lewisham, London

LeeFairShare“Our time bank enables people from all backgrounds to come together, sharing their experiences and skills.  People who might previously have felt isolated or marginalised in society can begin to feel more involved with and valued by those living around them, increasing the sense of local community.” LeeFairShare2







St Ives Time Bank, Cambridgeshire

StIves“St Ives’ answer to exchanging knowledge and skills, where the only currency is time. An exciting venture where people in the town are volunteering their own time and skills in return for other people’s. The project is strengthening ties in the community as well as bridging some of the gaps recent government cuts have created.” Twitter: @stivestimebank







Paxton Green, Lambeth, London

PaxtonGreen2“Paxton Green Time Bank currently has over 200 active members, a figure which is growing weekly. We are committed to supporting the growth of time banking both in Southwark and Lambeth, and also nationally by working in partnership with Timebanking UK.” Twitter: @pgtimebank PaxtonGreen






Time 4 U, Preston and South Ribble, Lancashire

Time4U “We hope to bring people together in a spirit of equality. We aim to increase social interaction and build relationships, to encourage community ownership through approved activities and to motivate and develop individuals. Our objectives are to develop a social network within the community who support each other, and to provide a wide range of opportunities, activities and projects for involvement.”



St Neots Time Bank, Cambridgeshire

StNeots StNeots2“We believe that everyone could benefit from TimeBanking and everyone has something to offer. We have 75 active members who have exchanged nearly 900 hours of their time, from IT specialists, a stress councillor to a reflexologist, woodworker, gardener and many more. We are a small TimeBank, but we’ve done some great work already with the community.” Twitter: @StNeotsTimeBank