Liz Thomas for Whistlefish
A TimeBank is an idea that was set up several years ago by American entrepreneur Edgar Cahn, while recovering from a heart attack in hospital. Knowing that so many people want to feel needed and useful, people create communities where they help each other (from walking dogs to baking cakes). Then earn the same hour’ (no matter what the job). With no tax involved, it’s a great way to then use earned hours to ‘pay’ for things you may need. You can donate hours to those who cannot earn (like 24-hour carers).
The administrator sets up the software, then everyone is logged in for safety, so people always know where you are and when. You then add your skills (this can be simple things like doing someone’s shopping or walking dogs, to skills requiring checks like building or child-minding). Then you simply advertise your skills. Once a job is done, your hours are logged, and you can use them to ‘buy’ something else that you need, from anyone else in the Timebank.
If offering professional services, buy insurance and get proper checks (safety, CRB etc). For gardening, see how to make gardens safe for pets, to know toxic plants and other items to avoid, if helping someone who lives with animal friends.
So as an example:
If you have a car and do someone’s weekly shop, this gets logged. You can then ‘pay’ for someone painting your front door and weeding your garden, with your earned hours. The person who you are shopping for, likely paid for it using skills they had (perhaps they have no car, but are good at darning socks!)
Timebanks do not destroy jobs. They actually are a good way to ‘test out the waters’ of a self-employed person. But what they mostly do is fill in the gaps of services that people can’t find locally. Like giving a break to carers, walking the dog or being a pet taxi of an elderly person, or offering skills that are no longer offered in shops (how many tailors or handymen are in your local area?) Probably quite a few, but many are just sat at home bored, with nobody knowing what they can offer.
Timebanks in particular are a great way for older people with skills (cooking, sewing, joinery) to be of service, make new friends and earn ‘money’ to buy things to treat themselves, that they may not otherwise be able to afford. Timebanking UK is a site where you can learn more, and find local timebanks to you.
Everyday is a bank account, and time is our currency. No-one is rich, no-one is poor. We’ve got 24 hours each. Christopher Rice