Frequently asked questions

What is time banking?

How does it work?

How to join?

I’ve signed up, what happens now?

What are time bank socials?

I am already volunteering for another cause.

Who has started a time bank?

What do participants do?

I’m a bit worried about people I don’t know coming into my house.

Can organisations get involved?

What can organisations and community groups share?

Is time banking primarily for the elderly?

Who stands behind time banking?  How do I know they will be worth something by the time I want to spend them?

Can people who can’t earn time credits still get help?

Can I give my credits away?

Is it really volunteering if I get something in return?

Is it necessary for government or local authorities to be involved?

Won’t time banking provide an excuse to cut back on government services?

What about liability?

Do time banking participants get compensated for travel expenses and the like?

Can anyone be a participant?

What do you need to start a successful time bank?

Is it OK if lots of credits don’t get spent?

What about taxes? Isn’t it just like bartering?

Income related state benefits and time banking.

Employment and support allowance or incapacity benefit.

What time banking isn’t?

 

 

What is time banking?

Time banking is a currency that turns time into buying power.  If you become a participant of a time bank, you earn credits for the time you spend helping other members of the scheme.  One hour of service earns you one time credit. With that credit, you can “buy” an hour of a particular service that you need.

If you don’t need all the credits you earn, you can save them up, donate them to someone you know or give them back to the “ time bank” so that the people who run the project can make sure the participants with the severest needs get all the help they require.

Dumfries and Galloway Time Banking Network recognises that many people don’t like the idea of accepting charity but like to feel useful and able to offer something back.  Time banking provides the opportunity for this through working on a basis of reciprocity – everyone has something to offer and neither age nor mobility should exclude anyone.

This kind of exchange is not new – it has traditionally occurred amongst families and friends.  All time banking does is to provide a new structure for neighbourliness, one that turns goods deeds into real purchasing power.

 

How does it work?

We provide a database which enables participants and organisations to post offers and requests for other members to view.

Step 1 – decide what you can offer and what you might like in return.

Step 2 – browse the web page to see what others are offering.

Step 3 – initiate a swap by clicking on the relevant offer or request.

Step 4 – do the swap and log you hours on the system.

Step 5 – leave feedback.

There is a help button on the database or a member of staff that will be able to help if you get stuck. Tel: 0300 303 8558.

 

How to join?

You can join on line. Click on the membership button and fill in the application form for your nearest time bank. Or complete a paper application (also under membership) and return to 16 Queensberry Street, Dumfries. DG1 1EX or email to anna@thirdsectorfirst.org.uk

 

I’ve signed up. What happens now?

We always ask for references for time bank members and nobody can start doing transactions until we have those back from the referees. For those members who are likely to be working with children and vulnerable adults, we also have to send off a PVG form, which can take some time to come back. However, you can do other things while you are waiting for your PVG.

We try and match people up as soon as possible, but sometimes there’s a wait if you need someone with DIY or decorating skills.  Keep in touch though, we always enjoy a phone call or to see you at Time Bank socials.

 

What are time bank socials?

We aim to have a social event once a month in your area. This is a chance to get to know other time bank members.

 

I already volunteer for another cause.

Great! You are entitled to time credits for every hour that you spend doing voluntary work. Ask Sharon for some special certificates that your volunteer manager can sign for you.

 

Who has started time banking projects?

Time banking is based on an American scheme called Time Dollars which has been running successfully in the USA since late 1980’s.  Time Dollars operates through a diverse range of projects in numerous states, and with people of all ages participating.  The first time bank in Britain was Fair Shares in Gloucestershire, which has been operating since early 1998.  It now has a network of time banks across Gloucestershire. There are over 300 time banks across the whole of the UK, with at least 36 in Scotland and that number is growing. Time banking is also used in 40 countries world-wide. We are developing time banks in all areas of Dumfries and Galloway, but participants will be able to share across the whole network.

 

What do participants do?

To give you an idea of the possibilities, here is a sampling of the services participants can exchange –

  • escorting people on errands and appointments
  • shopping or doing errands for people
  • doing simple housework, minor home repairs or gardening
  • giving time off to people caring for relatives
  • providing companionship
  • helping out with babysitting
  • telephoning people who are lonely
  • visiting people in hospital
  • letter writing and help with form filling
  • sharing skills in music, photography, woodwork, fitness, computers, knitting sewing……

 

I’m a bit worried about people I don’t know coming into my house.

Please don’t worry. We always check up on people before we ask them to do any work in other people’s homes. You may already have met the participant you are exchanging with at a social event and/or participants carrying out time exchanges are accompanied until both parties feel safe and secure in each other’s company.

 

Can organisations get involved?

Yes, from Care homes to community groups and businesses, everyone can get involved. Working together, these different groups break out of their traditional roles and silos and share their underused resources, encouraging partnership and joint working; bringing dividends for communities and organisations from across all sectors.

 

What can organisations and community groups share?

Mentoring/buddying, equipment, meeting rooms, team building days, music recording, professional services such-s decorating or hairdressing (with capped number of hours given for time credits per month), social and entertainment opportunities like theatre tickets or football tickets.

1 hour = 1 hour EVERY ORGANISATION’S TIME IS EQUAL

1 cinema ticket = 2 hours of time credits

Meeting room for 2 hours = 2 hours of time credits

 

Is time banking primarily for the elderly?

Time banking is for everyone – age and ability are no barrier.

Many projects are cross-generational and utilise the time and talents of all groups.  These projects give elderly people the opportunity to usefully spend time working with and caring for children.  Simultaneously, they can give parents free time to work, retrain or simply to have some time to themselves.

Some projects have schoolchildren helping older housebound people.  Elderly drivers giving lifts to young participants. Young parents who garden and decorate for elderly participants often take along their young children so another generation is involved.  Time banking enables friendships to develop amongst people who might not otherwise meet and breakdowns the barriers that sometimes build up between the young and elderly.

 

Who stands behind time banking?

How do I know they will be worth something by the time I spend them?

This question arises frequently.  Organisations understandably want to know what their obligations are before they start a time bank.  Most people who participate in time banks do so, not to build up credits, but because they want to help out in the community, get out of the house or make new friends.  Your credits have an earning power as long as your time bank exists and ultimately, it is down to you and other participants within the time bank to make this possible.  If your own group ceases to operate there is always the opportunity of joining another group in your area and taking your credits with you.

The worst case scenario would be that a group folded and participants were left with unspent credits and without another group in the locality to transfer to.  Even so, this has a positive side – the existence of the group enabled some people to help other people and feel proud that they did so.

Can people who can’t earn time credits still get help?

Yes, they can use time credits donated by other participants of the project or earned on their behalf by their family and friends. However, it is important to remember that time banking is about developing reciprocal services amongst participants so ultimately strengthening communities and rebuilding neighbourhoods.  At the end of the day most people will find they have something to offer and can provide a service that is valued and needed by someone else.

Can I give my credits away?

Yes you can.  In this way you can help a person twice.  Firstly, when you provide a service for a person in need, and secondly when you pass on your credits to someone else to enable them to get some help.  However, it is important that people use some of their credits because that is what enables a real community of mutual help to grow strong.

Is it really volunteering if I get something in return?

This is the question often raised about time banking.  It is important to remember that the word volunteer actually refers to something done from the heart, rather than strictly without reward.  The most important thing time banking does is establish a structure of reciprocity by re-building a sense of neighbourliness and turning worthy sentiments into real social and economic forces.

Time banking removes this stigma of charity or asking for help.  We aim to give everyone an equal opportunity to contribute a service – to participate.  When people sign up to receive assistance through a time bank, they are also signing up to help someone else in some way.  Even housebound people can provide a service perhaps by being a telephone friend – these calls can be the high point of the day for people who are isolated.  Alternatively, they can do project work from home such as addressing envelopes, and packing leaflets for other participants to deliver.  In this way everyone can play their part in the development of the time bank.

 

Is it necessary for the government or local authorities to be involved?

It is not necessary.  One of the advantages of time banking is that it is a do-it-yourself currency that people can establish on their own.  On the other hand, there can be advantages to getting government or local authorities involved – they may provide funding, office space, computer equipment, expertise etc.  Equally, these resources may also be available through other institutions or private funders.

 

Won’t time banking provide an excuse to cut back on services provided by the government, local authorities and other statutory bodies?

Social services needs are so great that resources must be mustered from every possible quarter.  Time banking projects can’t do everything any more than government can do everything.  An added benefit of time banking is that it can help to build a cohesive, stable, self-perpetuating community of self-help.  Time banking can turn strangers into friends and neighbours into extended families.

 

What about liability?

What if a service provider is injured on the job?  What if the service provider injures the person being help?

We are looking into a comprehensive insurance policy that provides for group accident cover, public and employee liability.  As a condition of the insurance as well as a sensible safeguard, all participants working with children and vulnerable people must agree to be police checked.

 

Do time banking participants get compensated for travel expenses and the like?

There is no reason why they can’t be, provided of course that money is available.  Needs will vary and this is one of the questions that will be resolved with individual projects.

 

Can anyone be a participant?

Anyone can be a participant providing they accept that the primary aim of time banking is to develop closer communities and recreate a sense of neighbourliness through the exchange of services. The idea of reciprocity is the driving force behind time banking and participants must be willing to both provide and receive services to enable everyone to have an active role within each project.

 

What do you need to start a successful time bank?

You need a community, neighbourhood or group of people who have unmet needs but lack the individual ability or the monetary buying power to meet them.  You need people who have an interest in helping others but equally recognise they also have needs for which they are willing to accept help, either now or in the future.  You need people who have an interest in developing a better sense of neighbourliness in their community and most of all you need enthusiasm.

 

Is it okay if lots of credits don’t get spent?

Time banking aims to help develop communities and in order to do this it is essential that people help each other by providing reciprocal services.  Providing this happens participant’s bank accounts should show an even balance of credits and debits.  However, there may be cases when participants are receiving services but through personal circumstances are not in a position to reciprocate at that particular time.  Equally, there will be times where participants are providing services but saving credits to spend them at a later date.  Providing this is the exception rather than the rule it should not cause any problems.

 

What about taxes? Isn’t this just like bartering?

Participants won’t be taxed because there is no barter involved and no costing system – everyone’s hour is worth the same. Our primary objective is to develop a stronger sense of neighbourliness within communities and the exchange of credits is a means to an end. The ability to spend the credits you earn depends upon the continuation of individual projects – there is no guarantee or monetary cashing in value of credits included in the scheme.

 

Income-related state benefits and time banking

Earning time credits is counted as non-remunerative work and does not affect your entitlement to income related state benefits.

 

Employment and Support Allowance or Incapacity Benefit

Time banking is classed as non-remunerative work rather than volunteering, so the situation is slightly different if you get these benefits. The Secretary of State for Work & Pensions stated in 2007 that for Time banking, “Time spent on these schemes is not voluntary work.” For this reason, “permitted work rules” apply. If your involvement with the Time Bank does not come within these rules, your incapacity status may be affected. We strongly suggest that you contact the Department of Work and Pensions to inform them that you are a member of Bolton Time Bank before you start doing tasks.

 

What time banking isn’t?

Time banking is not an excuse for budget cutting or getting services on the cheap. They are a way of activating an untapped national resource – the time of people who are retired or under employed – so that we can begin to meet the enormous service needs this country faces.

 

 

 

 

 

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