Weâ€™ve been catching up with our time banks all over the country to find out how theyâ€™ve been working in the community to respond to the COVID19 crisis. Weâ€™ve heard how many people are turning to them, from their own time bank members to bigger organisations such as local councils and larger charities â€“ because our time banks know exactly who the most isolated are, and who is able to help them.
While we’ve found that the majority of timebanking activity has been put on hold, some of our time bank members have still been carrying out exchanges and banking hours, including gardening (with no physical contact), interior painting (while homeowner was quarantined elsewhere), dog-walking, writing, and hosting one-to-one yoga sessions.
Zoom has been a lifesaver for many of our time banks, with many of them taking their social activities online, including Games, Gardening and Knit and Natter groups.â€¯
But our timebanking response hasnâ€™t been without challenges.
One time bank member was stopped by the police while on his way to an exchange at an empty house. The time bank in question has issued a letter than can be produced in such situations. Our time banks have reported members feeling cut off and lonely without their usual exchanges, and for some, online events are not an options. Many of our time banks have been making phone calls and writing letters to get around this issue. Lack of public transport has also been a problem for time bank members and brokers without access to their own vehicles.
However, we can report an increase in the number of people enquiring about setting up or becoming part of a time bank. We feel weâ€™re riding a wave of public spiritedness and community connectedness, and weâ€™re anxious to capitalise on this to keep our communities strong going forward. Weâ€™re exploring possibilities with like-minded organisations, forming part of Eden Communities’ Community Action Response, and talking with the National Association of Link Workers and the National Academy for Social Prescribing to help signpost isolated and vulnerable people to timebanking.
Do get in touch if youâ€™d like to partner with us on a project, either now or once we return to some semblance of normal: email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.