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What is timebanking?

In timebanking, a time bank member spends one hour of time helping another member, earning one time credit in return. They can spend their time credit on receiving an hour of someone else’s time. For example, Sam helps Suri with gardening, and then spends the time earned by receiving help from Jo, who teaches Sam basic IT skills. No money is exchanged. However, if your request does require money, such as a lift in a car, you’d be expected to offer reasonable petrol money to the driver. It’s a fantastic way of using your skills to help others, getting help for things you need, and perhaps most wonderfully of all, building individuals and communities one hour at a time.

Traditionally, timebanking has been divided into three categories:

1) Person-person

These might be through ‘standalone’ time banks, perhaps in a local community, where residents might organise social action using the principles of ‘an hour for an hour’. This might see a time bank member earning a time credit by, say, doing the shopping for an elderly member of the time bank, and then spending that credit on getting somebody else to help with a DIY task.

2) Person-agency

This model might see organisations using timebanking as a tool for achieving their own outcomes and goals. The time bank might be interwoven into the fabric of the organisation, so their own activities can be organised through a system of time exchange. For example, a hospital might wish to provide a home-care service for patients who have left the acute care setting but are still in need of support – somebody with a broken leg, for example. The hospital would organise the informal support needed, such as help with cooking meals, doing shopping or running basic errands, using the local time bank to provide help rather than paying professionals in the traditional manner.

3) Agency-agency

Time banks can also work between organisations, as a system for trading assets and resources. Organisations such as local businesses or public sector agencies, might give the local time bank access to some of their resources. This might be the use of a minibus or sports hall, or skills such as graphic design or legal advice. Organisations within the time bank can then share, trade and exchange resources, based on the ‘an hour for an hour’ principle.

Bringing all three models together

In reality however, time banks are most sustainable when the three models are combined and people, organisations and public services are brought together so skills, support and assets can be exchanged in a way that benefits all.

Click on the blue bar below to read the Department of Work and Pensions Daily Jobseeker Article.


Time banking – help others and help yourself at the same time

Fancy spending an hour washing someone’s car, doing some housework or gardening for them – and then getting that hour back from somebody else in a way that helps you? If so, time banking could be for you.

Time banking is growing nationally and can give you the chance to help others and help yourself at the same time. For every hour of time you give helping someone in your community you receive one time credit. You can then ‘spend’ that time credit when you need help from someone else. Best of all there is no regular commitment – you can choose when you get involved and gain time credits.

This could really help with your jobseeking as there may be time banking members that can help to give you advice with your job applications and CVs – or even to practice interview questions. Others may have IT skills they can pass on to you, or help you improve the appearance of your CV. There could be people who are self-employed who could offer ideas and advice if you are thinking of setting up your own business – or just someone you can sit and talk with if you feel your job search is going round in circles.

Don’t feel you haven’t got anything to offer as everyone can do something. You may not have some plumbing skills that mean you could offer to fix dripping taps, but you could walk a dog or two, help out at a local community event or even do some. It could also help to increase your skills at some tasks, build your confidence with people and get to know them and you’ll feel good about helping your local community. What’s more, doing voluntary work like this always looks good on your CV.

If you are claiming Universal Credit or other benefits and are required to look for work for 35 hours a week, this can count towards that time – but make sure you speak to your work coach about it first.

Timebanking UK is the national charity that supports time banks.

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