our stories

Time to speak up

Timebanking UK has been working with partners across the country to give a voice to people who have been hit hard by the pandemic, whether because of mental health issues, low income, unemployment or other challenges. The European Social Fund (ESF) has funded training and support to help TBUK work with Creative Lives, Richmond Fellowship, Coventry and Warwickshire Cooperative Development Agency and the BBC on a series of projects… and they’re seeking participants for the latest training programme, Sound Ideas to Share.

Sound Ideas to Share will equip those who take part with the skills they need to find employment in the creative or broadcasting area, and will include a set of training sessions from BBC Radio Merseyside’s Ngunan Adamu. The sessions are fun and interactive, and people will learn how to write a compelling trailer and intro, how to find and brief guests, and how to record, upload and promote their podcasts. They also have the chance to find out about timebanking and share their skills with others through a time bank.

Last year, TBUK worked with Richmond Fellowship’s Vicki Pritchard, who runs Our Time time bank in Liverpool, and producer John Offord, along with a group of enthusiastic trainee podcasters, to produce It’s About Time, a series of podcasts exploring their own lived experience of mental health issues. One of the participants, Aaron Mckenna, a member of Mencap Liverpool and Sefton, has gone on to make further podcasts.

Earlier in 2020, another crew of amateur broadcasters, this time in Coventry and Warwickshire, got together to create three more broadcasts, as part of the Sound Ideas stable of podcasts, again working with John Offord (see below). The team were joined at the celebration to mark their success by Mick Spicer, who runs Time 4 Warwickshire.

A group of people are standing together. Some are kneeling. Some of the people are holding certificates. They are smiling.

If you know someone in the Liverpool area who might benefit from learning a set of new skills – as well as making new friends and gaining self-confidence – please call Vicki Pritchard on 07901 517336.

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Saints fans score a success

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 info@timebanking.org.

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Woolmer Forest hits 6 million!

A time bank in Hampshire bank has made history by recording the 6 millionth timebanking hour.

After weeks of watching as the numbers got closer and closer to the magical six million mark, TBUK’s IT manager Ian Toplis announced that the time bank that tipped the balance was Woolmer Forest in Hampshire, which serves the area around Whitehill and Bordon.

Claire Coxwell, the time bank’s hard-working manager (pictured right), said, “How amazing that Woolmer Forest Timebank is the one out of all the time banks in the UK who achieved the six millionth timebanking hour!”

The six millionth hour was earned by time bank member Daphne, who’s been supporting another member, Sue, by phoning her regularly to talk to her through a difficult time.

TBUK’s CEO Sarah Bird said, “Claire, we’re so very proud of you, Daphne, and Sue for helping TBUK and our timebanking community reach this amazing milestone. It’s a huge achievement for you and your members, for all of our British time banks, and for the timebanking movement.”

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A FAB effort!

Christmas food parcels ready for deliverySince the onset of the pandemic, Ann Holloway of Fauldhouse and Breich Valley (better known as FAB) Timebank has found she’s had to change the way she works.

FAB Timebank is part of the Community Development Trust, and Ann explains that her timebanking work paused at the first lockdown as she took on a lot of anti-poverty work helping people most in need. With food hampers, teas, Christmas bags and welfare packages, Ann and her team have ensured no one in their community has been left isolated.

However, Ann is now looking forward to getting back to timebanking again, as so many of her members would rather meet up in person than online. And, with the new post-Covid roadmap now in place, time bank members can begin to think about resuming the activities they so enjoy.

Despite the challenges the pandemic has thrown at them, FAB Timebank has found a number of silver linings, including closer work with community partners.

Ann told us, “HMP Addiewell worked with us over Christmas, with residents and staff giving us help with hampers and afternoon tea – we’re now one of their chosen charities. We also have a local Masonic lodge with a large garden that can used by a local school for children with complex needs special needs to grow food for cookery classes.”

As Ann explains, Easter is always a busy time for FAB Timebank, and she’s not going to let the pandemic stop her this year: “We plan to do an Easter Hunt around the village using catchphrases with local shops participating. The phrases are printed out for children to find in shop windows – and I don’t know how I’ll do it, but I’ll make sure everyone who does the trail gets an egg!”



 

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Podcasts go live!

Timebanking UK’s ‘It’s About Time’ project, delivered in partnership with Richmond Fellowship’s time bank, Our Time, and Voluntary Arts England, has now gone live, with our groups across Liverpool having recorded their podcasts remotely from their homes.

Topics include the power of music to beat mental health problems, building confidence, and social media exclusion, and some powerful podcasts are emerging as the teams collaborate and support each other through the creative process.

All the podcasts have been devised and recorded by the participants themselves, drawing on their lived experience of mental health, and the programme has been led by BBC Radio Merseyside and freelance broadcaster John Offord and Our Time coordinator Vicki Pritchard.

 The It’s About Time podcasts are available to listen to here, at Anchor FM.

The project, which was originally conceived to take place face-to-face, has been funded by the European Social Fund.

 

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Uttlesford adjusts to the pandemic

Steve and Mark are friends, both working at Stansted Airport, and sharing a flat together. They found out about Time Bank Uttlesford through their Airport Community Team, which looks for ways in which the airport can help out in the community. Steve has been involved in quite a few gardening exchanges during the Covid 19 pandemic while being furloughed from his job at the airport. 

Time Bank Uttlesford’s broker Tessa says, “These gardening opportunities have been hugely beneficial to both parties involved; as people have been stuck at home, unable to work and with shops, pubs, and gyms all closed, these exchanges give valuable social, health and wellbeing opportunities to the Time Bank members taking part. Stansted Airport have been a member since September 2015 and have been involved in many group exchanges over the past years.”

The beneficiary in this case was Jacki, a member of Time Bank Uttlesford since January 2019. Jacki has been very active in the time bank, setting up a seated exercise class which has been a huge success for over a year now. During the pandemic, she had to move to holding an online Zoom class, helping participants to learn about Zoom in the process. She has also been helping out with shopping, prescription fulfilment, leading walks and ‘neighbourhood nattering’! It was time she used some of her time credits, so Steve and Mark working on her lawn edging was ideal. 

During the afternoon Steve had told her about one of his previous exchanges at a care home, of which Jacki wholeheartedly approved. 

“I think it is a very positive thing to do,” says Jacki. “It’s a great way to show others outside of timebanking what enjoyment one gets out of helping people. The fun those two chaps had at the care home – they really had a ball and were rewarded with tea, cake and very kind words. That’s what it’s all about!”

“Jacki was thrilled with the result and could not have been happier with such a great tea,” explains Tessa. “There was a lot of laughter and merriment and it was just wonderful to be able to be socialising, safely, during these testing and challenging times. The weather, as you see from the photo, was also smiling for us! All in all it was a really uplifting afternoon and we all came away feeling much more joyful and optimistic about everything.”

Time Bank Uttlesford has been very busy during the pandemic, as part of the Uttlesford Community Response Team, delivering prescriptions, shopping, telephone befriending and dog exercising for many beneficiaries. “We’ve been gradually exploring the Zoom world as well and, being part of the Essex Time Bank Network, are part of the Friday afternoon T@3 Zoom sessions,” says Tessa.

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Stroud: Supporting people in care home and sheltered housing

Eileen pictured at Stroud's Museum in the Park in front of the Budding lawnmower.
Eileen, a descendant of lawnmower pioneer Edwin Budding, pictured with her ancestor’s invention at Stroud’s Museum in the Park.

Former librarian Anna is a member of Fair Shares Stroud, the town’s time bank. She had been worried  that, once she’d retired, she’d miss the bustle and interest  of her job and the people she worked with and helped at the library. And, though as a talented artist and gardener with many  friends, she knew she wouldn’t be short of things to do, she wanted to do something for  her community. 

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St Neots: tackling isolation and homelessness

Members of the St Neots timebanking  at work clearing weeds from a patio.

St Neots is a thriving Cambridgeshire time bank with an active membership who love to take on new challenges. In March 2020, St Neots celebrated their eighth birthday – and they have helped people in all kinds of ways since they started in 2012.

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Broadway: how timebanking helped me to turn my life around

Paul Wilson of the Broadway Timebank
Paul Wilson: “My biggest satisfaction is seeing other people use my timebanking credits”

Paul Wilson used to run his own business before the breakdown of his marriage precipitated a descent into alcoholism and homelessness. He’s now a trustee of Broadway, the homelessness charity that helped him turn his life around through timebanking. Here’s his story.

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Nottingham: Timebanking helped my son realise his dream

Time bank member and her son at the graduation ceremony.
Sam’s mum donated her credits to help him reach his targets

Time credits can be transferred between time bank members and their family and friends. Here’s how a member of Nottingham time bank used her credits to support her son’s dream of going to university.

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