Community spotlight: TimeBank shares community skills

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TimeBank Hamilton members.
TimeBank Hamilton members.

TimeBanking is gaining momentum in New Zealand.

For those who are not sure what it is, TimeBanking is a way of giving and receiving services to build supportive networks and strong communities. Members of a TimeBank exchange services in a 'pay it forward' way, sharing skills, knowledge, talents and time within the community.

Within a TimeBank everyone's time is valued equally, so one hour of dog walking equals one hour of painting, equals one hour of computer tutoring. One hour helping another earns one TimeBank credit. So 'time' is a measure of trade, and you use credits to purchase services of another person. Time is traded instead of money.

TimeBanking is complementary to the market economy. It is not a replacement or in competition with it. In the TimeBank people need to look at the many other skills they have, like fixing washers, painting a fence, sewing, providing transport to appointments or the supermarket.

TimeBanking is based on five core values:

- We are all assets - acknowledging that all people have gifts and talents to contribute.

- Redefining work - valuing work that builds safe and vibrant communities and strong families.

- Reciprocity - "how can we help each other?" rather than "how can I help you?"

- Social capital - encouraging rich social networks

- Respect - respecting all people and the role they play in our communities.

TimeBanking was developed by Edgar Cahn, a retired civil rights lawyer in the 1980s. The concept has spread tomore than 26 countries around the world.

Sarah McAnallen, coordinator of Waikato TimeBank, says that TimeBanking is a rewarding and enjoyable way to bring people together to share their skills.

"Just like in a babysitting circle, people get the help they need and help each other out by taking turns to be responsible for some of the care and practical support that we all need from time to time. With TimeBanking, people of all ages and all abilities can join in and exchange a whole range of skills."

This year, Waikato TimeBank is running workshops run by TimeBankers for TimeBankers. Skills will be taught, such as bottling, bicycle maintenance, making sourdough bread. These skills help to make people more self-sufficient and lead more sustainable lives, but also bring people together in fun, informal settings.

Sarah says that TimeBanking adds richness to member's lives.

"It brings wealth in the form of friendship, caring for one another, having our needs met and getting help with things we cannot do. TimeBanking values skills which are often taken for granted such as mothering, caring, friendliness and listening."

Waikato TimeBank's aim is to build a more inclusive, resilient and connected society. A feature of TimeBank is the Community Chest. People who do not want their own time credits can donate them for someone else to use - such as friends, community groups, or someone who is in need.

Waikato TimeBank has around 200 members and last year 1247 hours were exchanged. Anyone and everyone is welcome to join Waikato TimeBank. TimeBanking is based on the premise that everyone within a community can be a builder and a contributor. Find out more at https://waikato.timebanks.org/

If your community organisation wants to be featured in this column, contact Kim Cable at Community Waikato - email kim@communitywaikato.org.nz or phone 838 1583.

- Hamilton News

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