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Time is the currency in community scheme that swaps skills and services

December 15th, 2017 7:10 AM

By Southern Star Team

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Timebanking has been successful in the UK since it was first introduced in the 1980s, but it is only in recent months that a West Cork version has been established, as Jackie Keogh reports

TIMEBANKING – a concept that gives volunteers a time credit for every hour they give to people in need – is now available in West Cork.

Timebanking has been successful in the UK since the 1980s, but it is only in recent months that the West Cork initiative – entitled hOUR Timebanking – has been established.

Gary Hampton, who set up the website which will connect everyone who wants to get involved in the scheme, said: ‘It is all about neighbours helping neighbours, building and strengthening our communities, and enlisting volunteers to work on community projects.’

The principle is simple: if you give an hour of your time to someone who needs help, you will receive a time credit that can be exchanged for something you need. 

Credits can be saved up, donated to others who are unable to earn credits, or stored in the community treasure chest for others to use. 

The initiative already has 100 members. 

People who are not tech savvy but would like to get involved can sign up by contacting the membership co-ordinators, Mary Casey on 087 6694247 or Gary Hampton on 083 4513266.

Gary said: ‘You could, for example, offer an hour of your time to walk someone’s dog, or help someone with their shopping. In return, you would receive a time credit that can be used to get some help with decorating.’

Long-term, Gary said he believes the hOUR Timebanking system will be a huge benefit to communities throughout West Cork.

‘We all have something to give,’ he said. ‘The real wealth of a society is its people. Everyone has the ability to contribute, no matter who they are, or what their life experience has been.’

He added: ‘Timebanking is an exchange of skills and services in the community. All it costs is time, because no money changes hands.’

Another altruistic aspect of the new initiative is that it will focus on social inclusion and employability.

Gary said: ‘That is just one of the reasons that the service has gained the support of national, regional and local government in the UK. Even GP practices have endorsed the social inclusion and employability aspect of time banking in the UK.’

Fergal Conlon, who is the manager of SICAP, West Cork’s Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme, has already endorsed the initiative.

He said: ‘West Cork Development Partnership are delighted to support Timebank. We are confident it will work and will add to and support the vibrant and energetic voluntary and community sector in West Cork.  

‘We are fortunate to benefit from a tradition and culture of Meitheal, civic engagement and active participation in our communities. 

‘The West Cork Timebank project will enhance and further expand this tradition bringing new communications and social media to maximise the value of volunteerism. 

‘We wish the project every success and look forward to working alongside the project leaders to make the project a success.’

John Loughnan, the Mayor of Clonakilty, described the initiative as ‘another important strand in the huge voluntary effort in communities throughout West Cork.’

Meanwhile, Sarah Bird CEO of Timebanking UK has said that they are looking forward to working with Ireland to assist with the development of time bank networks for the benefit of local people and communities.

County mayor Declan Hurley has also invited the group to address a special development meeting, which will take place on Friday, January 19th next.

There are now also Timebanking groups in Galway, Dublin, Kenmare and Cork city.

For more, see the group’s website at: http://www.west-cork.ie/

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