Community Time Banking

Local communities have a locked in wealth of skills, innovation and resources; time banking initiatives are one way to unleash such resources in an accessible and flexible manner. Time banking and co-producing systems bring individuals, local organisations and entrepreneurs together to exchange and unleash the wealth of resources, skills and knowledge locked in local communities.

In a time banking system, participating members advertise and share their resources locally; giving up your time for someone else earns you credits which in turn can be used to access resources elsewhere. According to Timebanking UK there are currently 20,000 Time Bankers in 250 Time Banks across the UK. One such set up is Camden Shares; a time bank network based in North London and set up by the Holy Cross Centre Trust. The website provides a platform for local residents to share skills and resources,by time banking; from dance tutoring to head massages to graphic design classes.

The key principle of the organisation is people power; it aims to encourage collaboration and utilise the resources local people have to positively tackle the challenges facing the community. Martin Simon the founder of Timebanking UK , has described Time Banking as a “parallel economic system” which exclusively operates on principles of caring, connection and spontaneity to strengthen the social environment of local communities . In this manner, Camden Shares recently brought a playwright looking for rehearsal space to an available space at Kentish Town City Farm. In return he has provided drama workshops and is developing a children’s play for the farm. Elsewhere, the site has allowed a young graphic designer to take up Portuguese lessons in return for time spent offering her design services to local businesses and organisations.

Participants earn time credits for every hour of service offered, which can in return be reclaimed. Organisations are welcome to earn time credits by giving, for example, the use of space or facilities, providing training opportunities or catering. Time credits can be spent in a wide range of services offered by all private, corporate or organisational time bank members, for example on concert and cinema tickets, gym sessions, computer or math tuition, office space and much more. Those who feel they don’t need their own time credits can donate them to a community pot, which can be used by those unable to contribute.

Camden Shares is also about co-production in action, working with people who might be socially excluded in a variety of ways in Camden and Islington and connecting them with the resources to contribute to day-to-day community life.

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