A country in which there’s a time bank in every community and on every high street, connecting and valuing people, and helping to eliminate loneliness.
Timebanking UK exists to share knowledge and skills, training and education to enable local people and organisations to establish and manage time banks. We encourage research into the impact of timebanking on individuals and communities. We promote our belief that time banks build capacity within communities, and we recognise and release everyone’s assets by using time, not money, as a currency.
Specifically, we will:
- Support time banks by giving them the resources, tools and information they need to thrive
- Work with organisations and commissioners with the aim of engaging local people to take part in timebanking
- Influence policymakers and local and central government to promote the advantages of timebanking
Our five core values are:
People are assets
The real wealth of our society is its people. We believe that every person is valuable and has something to offer other people in the community.
Time banks are helping to redefine “work” to include raising healthy children, preserving families, making neighbourhoods safe and vibrant, caring for the frail and vulnerable, and tackling injustice.
We believe the impulse to give something back is universal. Timebanking enables people to be givers as well as takers. At a time bank, “you need me” becomes “we need each other”.
Timebanking builds mutual social and practical support networks in communities, strengthening social capital and encouraging collaboration between community organisations and public services.
Time banks give people respect and recognise the value of everyone’s contribution by giving them the benefit of someone else’s time in return.
Why timebanking is good for society
Our economic system gives people the freedom to buy and sell goods and services. But, because interaction is so closely tied to financial exchanges, people soon feel excluded if they don’t have much money. If you’re not employed or don’t earn much, or if you’re housebound or suffer from chronic illness, you may soon begin to lose your sense of self-worth because so much of our personal identity depends upon what we ‘produce’ in monetary terms.
As Lee Gregory of Birmingham University puts it: “The market economy is responsible for neglecting many parts of human life and society which are a natural part of the economy, for example, care for disabled and elderly people, the creation of social capital through various arts and crafts, the environment and much more.”
Lee’s research reports that people feel valued as a result of their timebanking exchanges. He quotes time bank members saying:
“…what’s the question we ask each other? ‘What do you do for a living?’ When you’re retired, you’re nothing. That’s the way I feel… So we are all learning little things, and we are getting our pride back. We are doing something and being recognised…”
“…not only do you have the impact of having whatever condition you have, but you also have the impact of low self-worth, so although the time bank is not like a voluntary job, you can still build that up, which is really important.”
“You’ve earned. You go home and think ‘that was a good day today’.”
Timebanking also provides an equal platform for access. It allows people to access resources that might otherwise be beyond their economic means, such as training or help with housework.
Time banks are successful in attracting those who might not get involved in ‘traditional’ volunteering, including people with a low income and those who aren’t in formal employment. Only 16% of traditional volunteers have an income of under £10,000; nearly four times as many time bank participants do (58%). Of time bank participants, 72% are not in formal employment, compared with 40% of traditional volunteers (NEF, 2002: The Time of Our Lives).
Reciprocity and equality are enshrined in timebanking exchanges through the principle of ‘an hour for an hour’. Because everyone’s hour counts for the same, timebanking can enable even the most marginalised and isolated people to realise a sense of self-worth and belonging, making society less fractured and more cohesive.
The father of modern timebanking, Edgar Cahn, says timebanking exchanges “link people in a social network; each act of caring triggers a reciprocal act so that every transaction has social capital built in”. In a UK Cabinet Office paper quoted by Lee Gregory, Horne and Shirley (2009) discuss the concept of coproduction, expressing it as positive in terms of encouraging social contributions in society.
Timebanking builds networks of people who give and receive support, enabling people from different backgrounds who may not otherwise meet to form meaningful connections and friendships. Generating social capital in this way can enhance health, wellbeing and resilience, all of which can prevent additional needs arising, saving precious resources as well as contributing to a foundation of co-production that transcends our standard economic dealings.