Timebanks are a great new way for communities to come together and help support each other. Members can desposit time credits in their Timebank by providing help or services to others, and can withdraw these time credits when they need something done by a fellow Timebank member.
Timebanking is based on the simple principle that for every hour of time a person contributes to help someone else; they receive one time credit. A time credit is stored and then exchanged for services when needed from others. For example - if you help someone for an hour decorating their home, you can ‘buy’ an hour of someone helping you - let’s say - cutting your grass. It's fun, easy to start and no money changes hand.
Everyone is invited to give someone back to their local community regardless of your background, skills or finances. You could help someone collect their shopping, paint a fence, wash a car or walk a dog - it doesn't matter! Plus you can rely on your fellow Timebank members to help you out in exchange.
Timebanking is not a substitute for services that you would normally pay for, such as installing a kitchen, or for getting services on the cheap. Time Bank members give and receive all sorts of help, such as listening and visiting, gardening and form filling, or sharing skills in music, knitting and using computers, to simple repairs, ironing and running errands.
The more people share their time and skills, the healthier and happier your neighbourhood will become. With Timebanking, everyday acts of kindness are recognised as the important contribution they are to everyone’s wellbeing.
WHERE DID THE IDEA COME FROM?
The idea was developed by Dr. Edgar S.Cahn a civil rights lawyer and speech writer for Robert Kennedy who dedicated his life to the fight for social justice.
In his 40’s Edgar Cahn suffered a massive heart attack, losing 65% of the capacity of his heart. He was told he could no longer work and lay in hospital bed feeling useless – not a feeling he relished. However it prompted his thinking about others whom society considered “useless” - older people, the unemployed, people with mental health issues, lone parents on benefit. He concluded that the one thing everyone has in common is time – we all start the day with 24 hours at our disposal – it’s what we do with that time that makes the difference. Those who do paid work gain financial remuneration for their time which helps to define them as people and also gives status and value to their lives.
But what about the unpaid work of caring for and raising children, caring for elderly or disabled relatives, volunteering or being a community activist? This Edgar reasoned was the work which underpinned society; in essence the operating system for everything else. He called this work “The Core Economy” – the real work of caring, of loving, of being a citizen, a neighbour and a human being. This work is not valued by the market economy so Edgar Cahn developed Time dollars as a mechanism by which it could be rewarded. Timebanking is now widely accepted as an ideal way.
- To value the contributions that people make to rebuilding and sustaining their communities;
- To remind people of the skills they already have and the contributions they are – and are capable of – making;
- To encourage people to take responsibility for their lives and families;
- To ‘co-produce’ our public services efficiently and effectively.
Timebanking and Co-production are explained in detail in Edgar’s book - ‘No More Throw Away People’.