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Co-production and timebanking

Co-production and timebanking go hand-in-hand.  The core values behind timebanking actually make it quite difficult to have a time bank that isn’t based on co-production and the best time banks incorporate it into almost everything they do.

Timebanking is a tool to strengthen communities and raise social capital through co-production. Co-production happens when people are partners in the delivery of services they benefit from and when they are simultaneously active in achieving their own wellbeing. Timebanking motivates people to work together to build the community through those at grass roots who might have previously been forgotten or unaware of the potential for a thriving neighbourhood. This may be because of their status, age, gender, illness, lack of confidence – or too much time spent at work! – and which may have prevented them from feeling able or invited to actively participate in the neighbourhood. It could also be because there isn’t a dynamic platform and a coordinating group to facilitate it. People involved in a Time Bank create and provide such a platform.

Time Banking and co-production are founded on the principle that everybody has skills, talent, experience, knowledge, and time to make a difference. Being valued for who they are and what they can do makes people feel good and accepted. Embodied in a spirit of equality, trust and respect, time banking helps people feel they are useful and that they belong. Once you belong you are more likely to get involved because you can see tangible benefits: friendships, help, support, learning, sharing, being part of the decision making process – and much fun right where you are! Giving back is encouraged, and the reciprocal way of exchanging services and time is an incentive to participate as ‘there is something in it for everybody’.

Co-production is not just about rebuilding the social economy, it is also a new way of delivering services when recipients of services are also participants, who, engaged as active agents, are directly involved in the process of achieving outcomes. In the same way that teaching is more effective when the learner is engaged, services provided are more successful when the people being served are also involved in the process. The participant, who is a joint owner or partner of the process, is valued, trusted, invested in and empowered to co-deliver, ‘co-produce’, the service.

As we believe that everyone in the community is an asset, it goes hand in hand that they should be involved in the design, development, delivery and management of the timebanking project.

Timebanking is defined by the core values of co-production, as outlined by Martin Simon, our Founding Advisor.

  1. Asset
    The real wealth of this society is its people. Every human being can be a builder and contributor. A timebank recognises this by allowing members to define for themselves what they consider to be a valuable asset, and enshrining its value through the hour for an hour principle
  2. Redefining work
    Work must be redefined to include whatever it takes to raise healthy children, preserve families, make neighbourhoods safe and vibrant, care for the frail and vulnerable, redress injustice and make democracy work. A timebank provides liquidity to activitythat informally contributes towards these things.
  3. Reciprocity
    The impulse to give back is universal. Wherever possible, we must replace one-way acts of largess in whatever form with two-way transactions. “You need me” becomes “we need each other” in a timebank.
  4. Social capital
    Humans require a social infrastructure as essential as roads, bridges and utility lines. Social networks require ongoing investments of social capital generated by trust, reciprocity, and civic engagement. A timebank creates a system that builds social capital – every action leaves a footprint.
  5. Respect
    By respecting and recognising value in the contribution we can all make, we hard-wire a critical feedback loop into the way we work.


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