One good thing to come out of the lockdown has been our appreciation of our neighbours, local communities and helping each other out. Time banking builds upon this. Features Writer, Rob Bullock spoke to Dr Elham Kashefi from the Tara Time Collective at Lancaster Storey.
Time banking arrives in the Lancaster District
The lockdown has been difficult for most of us. But whether it was giving thanks to key workers on a Thursday evening or rainbows in windows, or helping a neighbour in need, it did make us think about what matters the most in life, giving and sharing and valuing our community. Time banking is something that builds upon this in a way that values everyone’s input.
Everyone has value
“Every human has value,” explains Dr Elham Kashefi from the Tara Time Collective, “in time banking everything has equal value whether it be the offer of accountancy help, or sitting with an elderly person, or picking someone up from the hospital, no one thing is more important than another.”
Trade or donate your credits
In time banking when you do something, perhaps walking someone’s dog when they can’t or picking up a neighbour’s child from school, you get a credit, and you can either trade that credit for yourself or donate it to an organisation like a charity.
“Many carers are unpaid and undervalued in our society,” says Elham, “but not in time banking, in time banking it has worth and can be utilised for something useful. And you can give without it costing you anything financial.”
A recent arrival in Lancaster
Although time banking has been in the US for around forty years and in the UK for nearly twenty, it is new to our district; “we have been trying to set this up for a while. And during the COVID lockdown, we were able to obtain funding to get it up and running. For myself, I asked for a walking buddy to be able to go out with a couple of times each week. But people can offer any skill that they think someone might be able to use. Perhaps they can play the guitar, so they could offer an hour’s guitar lesson. Perhaps they know how to write CVs, and they could show someone how to do that. People have a lot more skills than they think they do.”
Dr Kashefi was inspired to become involve in the time bank when she watched a video of one in Scotland; “It was the Castlemilk Time Bank,” explains Elham, “and the Samaritans actually trained prisoners in active listening with other prisoners, and when they did they got a credit, and then they donated the credits to a homeless charity. This really inspired me to set up a time bank in Lancaster.”
Just bring yourself
“A lot of people say that they don’t know what they can offer,” says Elham, “but we say just bring yourself! You are welcome for yourself, it’s not fixed, and you can choose what you offer and spend your credit on. We have online socials once a week and everyone is welcome to come along.”
Two exciting projects
The community garden and the human library project are just two of the brilliant things happening in our area. “The community garden project is something that is really good for our health and wellbeing, and that is what our Tara Time Collective is focused on, so someone can come along and do an hour’s work and get a credit and enjoy working in a beautiful community garden.”
For a writer like myself, the human library project sounds like an exciting way for members of our communities to share their stories. People can just go along and tell their stories. “It’s a great way to combat loneliness, which is a major source of ill health, by coming together we can make such a difference to members of our community.”
Whilst the total lockdown made most of us appreciate our local communities more, maybe the end of formal restrictions will affect the people we were helping; “this is a big worry for a lot of people, and a time bank can step in when people go back to work.”
Time banking is an ingenious way to help us make the most of our talents and skills, a way of appreciating our community and our neighbours, as restrictions continue in various shapes and forms I am sure it is something that will continue to enrich the lives of those of us who live in the Lancaster District.