Timebanking for individuals
Isn’t timebanking the same as volunteering?
Yes and no! Timebanking is reciprocal informal volunteering, where each member can offer skills and time, and request skills and time from other people in return. Timebanking is flexible and enables individuals to dip in and out as much as they like, donating their time as they wish. It works around your own lifestyle and existing commitments, and there are no obligations.
What if I don’t have any ‘skills’ to share?
Everyone has something to offer – even the simplest of tasks can have a positive impact on someone’s life. Everyday activities such as chatting to someone, playing cards, reading aloud, picking up shopping, walking a dog or doing some ironing can make a real difference.
What if I don’t have much time to give?
The beauty of timebanking compared with traditional volunteering is that it’s completely flexible: you only offer your time when you can and want to offer it. You could offer just one hour per week, per month, or even per year! However, the more time you put in, the more you can take out.
How do I get or give time?
Join your local time bank for FREE. If there isn’t one, why not start your own? Either way, check out our Join us! pages to get started.
What if I don’t want anything back?
Timebanking works best when members are both giving and receiving time. Ours is a reciprocal model, which means it’s based upon sharing time – and being able to share their skill can help some of our more isolated members develop a real sense of self-worth. However, if you really don’t want to spend your time credits, you can donate them to another time bank member or the community pot, so that someone else in the time bank can benefit from them.
Can I give my hours to someone else?
Yes, you’re free to give your hours to a friend or family member, or you could give them to the time bank for the community pot.
What’s a community pot?
Many time banks have a community pot, which allows members to donate their time credits for others to use. For example, if someone has just come out of hospital, they may need more support for a period of time but may not have many time bank credits to spend. The community pot can also be used to help people or organisations who are not time bank members but who would benefit from informal community support. They may later decide to join the time bank, giving them an opportunity to ‘give back’ their own skills to help others.
Will timebanking affect my benefit claims?
The short answer is ‘no’. If you’re claiming Universal Credit or other benefits that require you to look for work for 35 hours a week, timebanking may even count towards your jobseeking hours – but make sure you speak to your work coach about it first.
Do I need money to access a time bank?
Timebanking is free, but if you’re requesting a service, you will be expected to supply any materials unless you make arrangements with your exchange partner beforehand. For example, if you want someone to paint a door, you’ll need to supply the paint, brush and protective sheet – or give your exchange partner the money to buy them for you. Time banks often have a bank of donated materials, so it’s worth checking before you buy anything. Group activities run by time banks such as a knitting circle are always free, but you may be expected to bring your own wool and needles – check beforehand to be sure.
Is timebanking safe?
The safety of all Timebanking UK members is our top priority and each time bank will follow agreed policies and procedures, and have sensible safety measures in place:
- Local time bank members will meet prospective new members in person before they join
- All new members will be invited to participate in group activities and events before they begin to offer one–to–one exchanges
- Time banks will risk–assess activities carried out by members
- Each member must agree to and sign a code of conduct. If they breach this, they may be asked to leave the time bank
- Each time bank has a complaints system in place
- Time banks should have public liability insurance
- Personal information is never passed on without the permission of the member
- All personal data is secure and can only be accessed by the time bank brokers or coordinators
- Neither Timebanking UK nor your local time bank will ever sell your contact details to third parties
How do data protection rules apply to timebanking?
Time banks use and protect any information you give them. Time banks require personal information so they can understand your needs and provide you with a better service. Timebanking UK is committed to protecting your privacy, and our members adhere to the Data Protection Act 2017 and the EU General Data Protection Regulation.
Starting a time bank
How do I start a timebank and get it off the ground?
It’s always best to get a group of people together who are prepared to make offers and requests from the very start. However, it’s also possible to start small and grow gradually through word of mouth. This makes it easy to manage the joining process and ensure the safety of members. Read our simple guide to find out more
Is there an ideal number of people in a time bank?
There’s no ideal number, although you need at least two to start! Most time banks have 50 to 100 members.
How much does it cost to run a time bank?
The biggest expense for time banks is the cost of paying a broker or coordinator. This role has many responsibilities including administration, maintaining and updating software, and overseeing safety. Most large time banks need funding of £20,000 to £50,000 per year to operate at a level where they can reach many hundreds of local people and organisations.
How do you keep a Timebank afloat?
Sustainability continues to be a challenge for many UK time banks. One way to build in longevity for your time bank is to get local organisations to support you. Talk to local colleges, community groups, parish councils, youth groups, and NHS organisations, for example, and show them how joining a time bank can help their people gain self-confidence, develop skills and stay in touch with their local community. Timebanking UK are continually working to secure funding to support time banks with their long-term success.
What is Timebanking UK’s role?
We help organisations and groups of individuals set up time banks and community networks by offering resources, advice, policy guidance, and training, as well as developing standards for best practice via our Quality Mark™. We also offer regional and local training days, engagement ideas, timebanking software and a mobile phone app.
Joining Timebanking UK gives time banks the knowledge they need to make the best start; we’ll keep them up to date with all the latest news and developments across the country. Time banks govern themselves and decide on their own local activities, but we provide a set of working guidelines to follow. This enables time banks to access an insurance policy from our recommended insurers. As a member of Timebanking UK, time banks can access the Members’ Area of our website, which is packed with bright ideas for keeping your time bank going strong.
We also work at national level, spreading the word about our model and values, lobbying policymakers, informing the media, and working with likeminded partners in business and the charity sector to enhance community cohesion and individual resilience.
We act as expert consultants to promote best practice within timebanking, as well as influencing the broader conversation about social inclusion and how to defeat the scourges of loneliness and low self-worth.
Why should my time bank join TBUK?
As the custodians of timebanking in the UK, we help commissioners, local authorities, health professionals and individual time banks every step of the way. We can tailor training to your needs and we’re always on the end of the phone. We have a wealth of resources to help time banks, and our TOL2 software has been developed through years of experience of timebanking. We advise time banks about legal issues they may encounter, on how to deal with difficult situations, and on ways to ensure minimum risk and maximum safety for everyone involved. If a time bank encounters difficulties with benefit payments or DBS checking, we can liaise with the Department of Work and Pensions and the Disclosure and Barring Service to help you get the issue resolved.
TBUK also offers ways for time bank brokers to share their experiences and work towards best practice online and in person. Watch out for events, meetings, training and socials coming to your area!
Timebanking in general
How do you value hours?
Everyone’s time is equal, regardless of the task – an hour from a sculptor or rocket scientist is worth the same as an hour from someone fresh out of secondary school. No one is standing by with a stopwatch, so if you finish your task in slightly under or over an hour, it still counts as an hour.
Will I ever have to pay for a time credit?
No one should ever have to pay for a time credit. It’s an hour of your time, exchanged for an hour of someone else’s time.
Can you evaluate the economic impact of a time bank?
Timebanking UK has calculated the social return on investment for a time bank in London and found that for every £1 invested, the social value was £9.34.
What are the wider benefits of timebanking?
The Eden Project’s report, The Cost of Disconnected Communities, by Gill Seyfang (2001, 2003) found that by allowing members to develop new skills and receive training, time banks can deliver new informal employment opportunities to people who are socially excluded, boost their income in the long term, offer cost-free access to goods and equipment, and provide a forum for social interaction and community-building.
Are there any exchanges you can’t offer or request?
Time banks don’t offer professional work such as engine mechanics, electrical or plumbing work, legal advice, or jobs that pose health or safety risks. Timebanking is not intended to replace regular paid work such as social care, gardening or cleaning.
Do you have another question we haven’t answered here? Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’re always happy to talk about timebanking!