Lyttelton Harbour, viewed from Mt Cavendish, Port Hills, Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Have you heard of a thing called Timebanking? I have been working on an idea for St John to partner with Timebanks in New Zealand for the last couple of years as I believe it would have amazing benefits for us in St John for many reasons.
One of the biggest benefits to St John would be for our volunteers.
So, if you haven’t heard of it, Timebanking is a community exchange network where people ‘earn’ time for services they provide, which they can then ‘spend’ for things they need doing from somebody else in the Timebank. Everybody’s time is equal so one hour of you doing something equals one hour of me doing something, no matter what the service or skills we are using. So giving someone companionship has the same value as building someone a rocket ship (materials not included!)
This means that our volunteers could get the hours that they put in to St John ‘paid back’ to them in services from other people in their community – mowing lawns, house cleaning, babysitting, learning guitar… whatever! Which can make the financial and time costs associated with volunteering a lot easier to manage.
The best way for it to happen is for the local St John Area Committees to join their local Timebank as a member in their own right. The volunteers who wanted to would also join up as members of the local Timebank. (Timebanks don’t exist in all New Zealand towns yet, but there are a fair few and the number is steadily rising). Then, when the volunteer has worked their shift, they can go onto the Timebank website and ‘make the trade’ that is, claim the hours they have given to St John. There is no extra paperwork involved for the committee at all. With the hours now in their Timebank account, the volunteer can now ask for what they need from others in their community.
As a member of the Timebank, there are many ways the Area Committee can earn credits, although you must remember that it doesn’t matter if a Timebank member pays out more than they earn – a Timebanking ‘debt’ is not the same as a money debt.
As I said, there are already quite a few Timebanks in New Zealand at varying stages of operation, the oldest one is in Lyttelton in Christchurch. There are already two Lyttelton volunteers who are members of the Lyttelton Timebank and the Lyttelton Area Committee has just agreed to join the Lyttelton Timebank as a member. Up until now, the volunteers had been being paid out of the Timebank’s Community Chest. This doesn’t work as well, because Timebanking is based on reciprocity, so it ought to be the recipient who swaps time credits for the person’s time. Obviously, the whole community benefits from the St John volunteer’s time, so Timebanking gives opportunities for the community to give back to volunteers.
I see a collaborative relationship between St John & Timebanking as needing some nurturing to begin, but the potential for St John as an orgainisation, for our volunteers and for enhancing the health of all New Zealanders is immense and could prove to have the best return on investment of any strategy on the table.
Keep reading and commenting as this is such a huge subject it takes a lot of information to get your head around!