BerkShares – Money in the Hands of the Local Community
September 3, 2020

Timebanking UK – Time as a Literal Currency

What is Timebanking?

In short, this is a project which focuses on using time as an alternative currency; one hour is worth one time credit. Once you obtain time credits you can store it in time banks and use them whenever it suits you. Members go to carry out specific tasks for other members in exchange for time credit. This could be as simple as painting a fence or dedicating some time to do community work. The time credits are under your control, as you can save them, spend them or even donate them to someone else in the community.

 

System

Timebanking UK has recognised 3 different categories of timebanking:

  1. The first is a Person to Person exchange. For example, you might do shopping for an elderly member of the time bank, then spend the credit you earned on someone carrying out a DIY task. 
  2. The next type of interaction is a Person-Agency link. A good example of this is when a hospital is providing informal support for a patient who left the care setting but still needs help. Members might do some cooking for the person and carry out other errands. In this case, the hospital is using the local time bank to provide support rather than having to pay people, which is what would traditionally happen.
  3. Finally, there are Agency-Agency interactions. This is where organisations within the time bank directly work with each other. Local organisations might let another business use its resources such as a sports hall or minibuses. As well as this, they can share skills like graphic designing or even give consultation. Here, time credit is exchanged on ‘an hour for an hour’ principle. This seems to be a really effective way of encouraging collaboration between organisations and improves general accessibility.

This system is also asset-based which is orientated around the idea that everyone in the community has something of value. This is especially valued by those who feel isolated from the community because they are shown that they have importance. On top of this, people have access to resources that may not have been accessible before; extra support for the elderly, for example.

Even though time banking is centred around community work, it is not necessarily a ‘volunteering job’. This is because it is a two-way street – you give and receive time, and you do the jobs when you want to do it. Also, it fills the gap that people within the community may not ordinarily be able to do – an example that was used in the Ted Talk (video linked below) is the responsibility of pushing the elderly in wheelchairs to the beach. Whether you paint people’s walls or mow lawns, anyone can get involved and receive time credits – you can get haircuts or even watch your local football club play.

Success and Benefits

According to Timebanking UK’s TedTalk (2017), 41,000 people are exchanging time and over 1.1 million hours have been exchanged. They gather this data from the time banks and collect data to see what activities are happening in the community. This scheme even gathered support from the likes of the Department for Work and Pensions which goes to show how far this time banking project has come and the effective work it does for communities. Individuals are seen as assets to the community rather than burdens. The idea that everyone has something of value to give with time is really encouraging; it doesn’t matter about your age, ability, or any other background. This inclusive approach empowers people, which leads to a stronger community.

I’ll end this blog with a quote from their website which summarises the aim and ethos of this project: Timebanking can bridge divides of race, class, gender, national origin — because it defines people by what they are prepared to do for others’.

 

 

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