Our Stories

Isle of Wight: everyone has something to offer

Sally from West Wight Time Bank picking potatoes grown in the time bank’s community garden.

Sally is the coordinator of West Wight Time Bank, the UK’s most southerly time bank – and the only one on an island. She tells us how timebanking can help everyone find skills they can offer to others.

Timebanking really is a case that it’s not just about money, rather it’s about our members, their strengths, gifts and time which make the perfect combination to build relationships within our community.

We have a broad membership aged from 25 to 89 years, and one of my main roles is to try to work with individual members to find out both what they’d like to offer or receive, and the details of where, how and at what level.

Many times, I meet with the same response when people first join: “I’d love to give but I don’t think I have any skills that others would want”. I’ve started to see this as a reflection of the times we live in, where people have stopped feeling valued for who they are and lose confidence in their abilities, which in extreme situations can lead to feelings of helplessness or depression.

One of my members joined when she was in her 80s as she wanted help to visit the local hairdresser, but found local volunteer services could not help, as her wheelchair was too heavy to lift into a car. We arranged for a wheelchair to be at the hairdresser, and she used a walking aid to get from her home to the car. This worked for about six months, but she was concerned she hadn’t given anything back, despite reassurance that there’d be a time when this would all fall into place and she could offer some of her strengths. She was sceptical.

While chatting on our visits to the hairdressers, she mentioned that, in her younger days, she’d been a domestic science teacher. As we’d just been given a community garden, it became clear that there really was a great offer she could make to other members. So, with her carer, she found a delicious recipe for a simple potato pie, and they typed it up, earning time credits for doing so. As this was the only crop we managed to harvest, it gave me great pleasure to put it into the monthly newsletter for members to use with the shared produce.

It’s the little things like this that make my role so wonderful!