As football grounds welcome back supporters and students are set to return to universities, we thought we’d share a story from two former time bank members who fit those categories.
Neil and Miles, both Southampton FC fans, met as members of Southampton Timebank [currently on hold as a result of Covid]. Miles earned timebanking hours making befriending calls to Neil – and the two soon became fast friends. Miles, who’s since graduated, had been a Human Geography student at the town’s university. He explains, “I’ve loved living in Southampton; however, I’ve had to move back to my home town back in Bath, where I’ve been since lockdown started.”
Timebanking was new to both Neil and Miles when they first met. Neil recalls, “I heard about timebanking after watching this TedX talk by Sarah Bird, the CEO of Timebanking UK. I thought the concept of giving people your time, over money, was something I wanted to be a part of. I wanted to stay involved with Southampton Timebank while I was in lockdown in Bath, so thought being a phone buddy would be the best way to do this.”
For Neil, finding out about the time bank came as a result of acute need. He says, “A key worker for the council provided the time bank’s telephone number, as I needed food delivered during lockdown.
“I called Lynda from Southampton Timebank, who organised someone to deliver the food. After a few weeks, I found out the volunteer had broken her elbow and was in a wheelchair, but she still delivered my shopping. I thought to myself, it’s incredible how she went out of her way for me despite her own struggles.”
The time bank also connected Neil with Miles as a phone friend. Neil says, “As it’s just me in the flat, I really appreciated having a phone buddy as it could get lonely at times. Because of my type 2 diabetes, I had to shield, and living alone all day isn’t easy, particularly as you can’t go out and see friends.”
The two soon bonded over their love for Saints, though both of them came at it from unusual angles. Miles explains, “My favourite sport is rugby, but I am in fact a Saints supporter, as my grandad made sure of that!”
For Neil, meanwhile, his loyalties are torn in another direction. He says, “I’m also a West Germany and Bayern Munich supporter, as the first club I went to see. Even though I’m not German and we get beaten in Europe, I’m still sticking with my shirt. I must be the only Englishman who supports Germany!”
“I really look forward to having my weekly catch up with Neil on a Sunday,” says Miles. “I don’t think either of us had ever been a phone buddy before, but we seemed to both share a passion for sport so we never run out of things to say!
“It’s amazing how easy it is to get to know someone even without ever seeing them or speaking to them in person. Neil always makes me laugh… and I rely on him to fill me in with all the news that’s gone on that week. He also keeps me up to date with what’s going on with the Saints footy…”
Neil adds, “It’s good to have somebody, even if you don’t see them – you can’t always talk to friends during lockdown. It’s been great to carry on our weekly conversations beyond lockdown and get to know one another a lot more.”
Miles concludes, “One of the biggest things I’ve learned from lockdown and being a phone buddy is that we all have a lot more in common than we sometimes think. Although Neil tells me there’s a slight age difference between us, we actually have a lot in common and, when you speak over the phone, it’s great how you can focus on the commonalities, rather than the differences between us.”
If you are interested in becoming involved in timebanking, please email email@example.com.