An Historical Day!!
Tonight I went to Lyttelton and together with Wendy Everingham from the Lyttelton Timebank, we convinced the Lyttelton St John Area Committee to join the Timebank. This will mean volunteers who chose to join their local Timebank (Lyttelton or any other) will be able to have their hours aknowledged and ‘reimbursed’ in time credits. This is the first Area Committee in New Zealand to join a Timebank, so we have the ball rolling!!
It takes a while to understand the possibilities of Timebanking, especially when related to something like St John Ambulance. Although the ideas and concepts themselves are quite easy to grasp, there seems to be a psychological leap required to ‘get’ it. And because the possibilities are literally endless – limited only by peoples’ imaginations -it is hard to fully explain. But once people start to ‘get’ it a little bit, they can at least see that there are no downsides. The only downside is trying to clearly impart all of the upsides!
So Lyttelton St John Area Committee will be able to earn credits by renting out their rooms, giving first aid training (for which they can also pay people credits to attend), sharing health knowledge with the community and whatever other ideas they may come up with. (The local kindergarten earns time credits from the children drawing pictures which get used as wrapping paper and cards – so when we say possibilities are endless, it’s because they really are!) But it must be remembered that ledgers don’t have to balance with time credits. If the Area Committee ‘pays’ out more hours than they earn, it really doesn’t matter, the ‘debt’ in time is not the same as a money debt. But it is better that there is a circular nature to the transaction. Before tonight, the two Lyttelton St John volunteers who had joined the Timebank were being paid time credits from the community chest. By being an organisational member, the Area Committee aknowledges those hours very deliberately themselves (although there is no need for extra paperwork – the volunteers will make the transaction themselves online) and they can also more closely engage with their local community. There become more ways that the community can give back to St John whilst not necessarily becoming a member of St John. And if the first two Timebanking volunteers became St John volunteers because of the incentive of earning time credits (as they apparently did) then the chances are that others will be encouraged to become volunteers because of it, too.