The Time Currencies building communities in Cambridgeshire: Time Banks & Time Credits

Janet, 86, lives on her own in a Cambridgeshire village. She has reduced mobility and wanted to be able to use a computer and smartphone so that she can keep in touch with friends and family more easily. Maria, a resident in the local community, got in touch to help Janet through her membership of Cambourne Timebank.

A Time Bank is a way of facilitating an exchange of skills between individuals in a community. You could, for example, mow someone’s lawn, and then claim back that hour by asking someone to help you with grocery shopping or a language lesson. As with Time Credits, everyone’s time is valued equally, so whether you offer DIY skills or a presentation on medieval history, you accrue the time that you give to members of the Time Bank.

Maria was really happy about going to see Janet as it gave her an opportunity to practise her technology and teaching skills. She visited Janet in her home and showed her how to send emails and messages. Maria also brought her baby when she visited, delighting Janet!

How does Tempo work with Time Banks?

After signing an agreement with Tempo, Time Banks can offer up to 10 Tempo Time Credits a month to each member to withdraw in exchange for the hours they have banked with their Time Bank co-ordinator. Some of the larger Time Banks also facilitate joint meetings, trips and events across the network.

“Time Credits have been a wonderful addition to the Timebank and have benefited many members,” says Zo Weaver, co-ordinator of St Ives Time Bank. “Families on a low income have been able to enjoy time at the cinema or days out at attractions on the Norfolk coast and Blackpool.

Through a Tempo partnership with Cambridgeshire Time Banks, Maria was able to swap the Time Bank hour for a Time Credit. Maria has so far spent her Time Credits by taking her children swimming at Parkside Pool in Cambridge, and on attending a Social Venture weekend at the prestigious Cambridge Judge Business School to develop her business idea.

Tempo has worked with Time Banks in Cambridgeshire since 2014, when it was first commissioned by Cambridgeshire County Council and CHS Group to develop a Cambridgeshire Time Credits network.

Time Credits have been shown to attract new members to the Time Bank, including younger participants that encourage more intergenerational exchanges, and also to develop stronger links between Time Banks and local organisations and businesses.

There are now 9 Timebanks based in communities across Cambridgeshire and all have joined the Tempo Network. In the last year, over 1600 Time Credits were earned by almost 100 individuals that belong to a Timebank.

“Several members have taken up new courses or revisited old skills at the Adult Learning Centre. One very independent member spent Time Credits on a bike maintenance course. And London is always a very popular destination – lots of members have treated family to trips to the Tower of London, boat trips on the Thames or a visit to St Paul’s Cathedral,” says Zo.

Photo by Daniel Funes Fuentes on Unsplash