Jane Wenlock of the Vauxhall Time Bank says timebanking will benefit both individuals and the community. Time banks connect people through the use of time as currency. You earn time credits for helping each other. People help others and it helps to bring the community together. There is no limit to what skills and abilities you can bring to a time bank. Social tasks, experience and support are as valuable as physical tasks in the house or garden.
United Nations research estimates that adults in western nations average four to six hours a day – including weekends and holidays – of “free time”. Most is spent on video games, television, or other indoor activity. Four UK people in 10 (according to a Sky poll) feel financially worse off than 10 years ago. This combination makes time banking a valuable proposition.
Skills to share can include practical help – gardening, cooking, decorating – but there is no limit to who can be helpful as part of a time bank. Social tasks as simple as visiting somebody who is lonely or finds it difficult to leave the house, or helping somebody quit smoking, start a new hobby or fitness routine, or who needs counselling through a difficult time, are as valuable as any physical task.
Time banks allow people to share skills and can help a community become better connected, and self-supporting. While thanks is enough for many, the credit you earn can be put towards help that you might need, or be donated to friends and family – say in exchange for a tyre change, or for somebody to come over for a cup of tea when they’re feeling lonely. Somebody will be the better for it, and you will, too.
In South London there are time banks in Peckham, Catford (Rushey Green), Gipsy Hill (Paxton Green), and Morley College in Waterloo. The Paxton Green Time Bank has activities throughout Lambeth and Southwark that time bankers can attend free.
In Brixton, for instance, “Spacecraft” knitting and crochet to make baby gifts takes place on Tuesdays from 1 to 3pm at Brixton Library. Everyone is welcome even if they have no experience, just want a chat, or have a baby with them. Find out more at timebanking.org.