||It has been suggested that this article be merged with Time-based currency. (Discuss) Proposed since March 2011.|
Time banking is a pattern of reciprocal service exchange that uses units of time as currency. It is an example of a complementary monetary system. A time bank, also known as a service exchange, is a community that practices time banking. The unit of currency, always valued at an hour's worth of any person's labor, used by these groups has various names, but is generally known as a time dollar in the USA and a time credit in the UK. Time banking is primarily used to provide incentives and rewards for work such as mentoring children, caring for the elderly, being neighborly—work usually done on a volunteer basis—which a pure market system devalues. Essentially, the "time" one spends providing these types of community services earns "time" that one can spend to receive services. As well as gaining credits, participating individuals, particularly those more used to being recipients in other parts of their lives, can potentially gain confidence, social contact and skills through giving to others. Communities therefore use time banking as a tool to forge stronger intra-community connections, a process known as "building social capital". Time banking had its intellectual genesis in the USA in the early 1980s. By 1990, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation had invested USD 1.2 million to pilot time banking in the context of senior care. Today, 26 countries have active Time Banks. There are 250 Time Banks active in the UK and over 276 Time Banks in the U.S.
- 1 Origins and philosophy
- 2 Time banking and the time bank
- 3 Criticisms
- 4 Time banking around the world
- 5 Organisational Time Banking
- 6 Studies and examples
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Notes
- 10 External links
Origins and philosophy
According to Edgar S. Cahn, time banking had its roots in a time when "money for social programs [had] dried up" and no dominant approach to social service in the U.S. was coming up with creative ways to solve the problem. He would later write that "Americans face at least three interlocking sets of problems: growing inequality in access by those at the bottom to the most basic goods and services; increasing social problems stemming from the need to rebuild family, neighborhood and community; and a growing disillusion with public programs designed to address these problems" and that "the crisis in support for efforts to address social problems stems directly from the failure of . . . piecemeal efforts to rebuild genuine community." In particular Cahn focused on the top-down attitude prevalent in social services. He believed that one of the major failings of many social service organizations was their unwillingness to enroll the help of those people they were trying to help. He called this a deficit based approach to social service, where organizations view the people they were trying to help only in terms of their needs, as opposed to an asset based approach, which focuses on the contributions towards their communities that everyone can make. He theorized that a system like time banking could "[rebuild] the infrastructure of trust and caring that can strengthen families and communities." He hoped that the system "would enable individuals and communities to become more self-sufficient, to insulate themselves from the vagaries of politics and to tap the capacity of individuals who were in effect being relegated to the scrap heap and dismissed as freeloaders."
- Everyone is an asset
- Some work is beyond a monetary price
- Reciprocity in helping
- Social networks are necessary
- A respect for all human beings
Ideally, time banking builds community. Time Bank members sometimes refer to this as a return to simpler times when the community was there for its individuals. An interview at a time bank in the Gorbals neighborhood of Glasgow revealed the following sentiment:
[the time bank] involves everybody coming together as a community . . . the Gorbals has never—not for a long time—had a lot of community spirit. Way back, years ago, it had a lot of community spirit, but now you see that in some areas, people won't even go to the chap next door for a some sugar . . . that's what I think the project's doing, trying to bring that back, that community sense . . .
Time banking and the time bank
Time Bank members earn credit in Time Dollars for each hour they spend helping other members of the community. Services offered by members in Time Banks include: Child Care, Legal Assistance, Language Lessons, Home Repair, and Respite Care for caregivers, among other things. Time Dollars earned are then recorded at the Time Bank to be accessed when desired. A Time Bank can theoretically be as simple as a pad of paper, but the system was originally intended to take advantage of computer databases for record keeping. Some Time Banks employ a paid coordinator to keep track of transactions and to match requests for services with those who can provide them. Other Time Banks select a member or a group of members to handle these tasks. Various organizations provide specialized software to help local Time Banks manage exchanges. The same organizations also often offer consulting services, training, and other materials for individuals or organizations looking to start Time Banks of their own.
Example services offered by Time Bank members
|Child care||Legal assistance||Language lessons|
|Home repair||Respite care||Account management|
|Writing||Odd jobs||Office/business support|
The mission of an individual time bank influences exactly which services are offered. In some places, time banking is adopted as a means to strengthen the community as a whole. Other time banks are more oriented towards social service, systems change, and helping underprivileged groups. In some time banks, both are acknowledged goals.
The time dollar
The time dollar is the fundamental unit of exchange in a time bank, equal to one hour of a person's labor. In traditional time banks, one hour of one person's time is equal to one hour of another's. Time dollars are earned for providing services and spent receiving services. Upon earning a Time Dollar, a person does not need to spend it right away: they can save it indefinitely. However, since the value of a Time Dollar is fixed at one hour, it resists inflation and does not earn interest. In these ways it is intentionally designed to differ from the traditional fiat currency used in most countries. Consequently, it does little good to hoard Time Dollars and, in practice, many time banks also encourage the donation of excess Time Dollars to a community pool which is then spent for those in need or on community events.
Some criticisms of time banking have focused on the time dollar's inadequacies as a form of currency and as a market information mechanism. Frank Fisher of MIT predicted in the 80s that such a currency "would lead to the kind of distortion of market forces which had crippled Russia's economy." To this day, Time Banks in the U.S. must avoid setting any monetary worth on their Time Dollars, lest it become taxable income to the IRS.
Dr. Gill Seyfang's study of the Gorbals Time Bank—one of the few studies of time banking done by the academic community—listed several other non-theoretical problems with time banking. The first is the difficulty of communicating to potential members exactly what makes time banking different, or "getting people to understand the difference between Time Banking and traditional volunteering." She also notes that there is no guarantee that every person's needs will be provided for by a Time Bank by dint of the fact that the supply of certain skills may be lacking in a community.
One of the most stringent criticisms of Time Banking is its organizational sustainability. While some member-run Time Banks with relatively low overhead costs do exist, others pay a staff to keep the organization running. This can be quite expensive for smaller organizations and without a long-term source of funding, they may fold.
Time banking around the world
Time banking in the United Kingdom
In 1998 Martin Simon opened the first time bank in the UK in Stonehouse in Gloucestershire. There are now over 300 time banks in the UK involving over 25,000 participants who have given and received over one million hours of mutual support. See www.timebanking.org and www.freedomfavours.com
Time banking in Ukraine
In 2009 NGO "Humanitarian Center" opened the first Regional Exchange System “Time Banking” (RES "TB") in Kiev, Ukraine. The RES "TB" relates to ROCSystems as it’s a Robust Complementary Community Currency System, is developed with account taken of international experience and recommendations. There are now nearly 50 branches in Ukraine. See www.bankvremeni.org
Time banking in Australia
In August 2012 a Timebanking trial was established in Australia (in the Newcastle and Central Coast regions) with New South Wales government funding. This trial saw 4,000 members exchange 8,000 hours of support. On 5 November 2013, based on the success of the trial, the New South Wales Government announced that the existing trial region would transition to 14 pilot sites (one for each local government area) and that 30 new pilots would commence in 2014.
Global Time Banking
Organisational Time Banking
Echo (Economy of Hours) is a UK non-profit organisation, established to deliver the infrastructure for mainstreamed time banking. It provides free support and web solutions to time banks and is developing a sustainable income stream for local time banks, in the form of its commercial organisational (B2B) time bank.
Financed by Nesta and delivered in partnership with the London Legacy Development Corporation, Echo developed the first successful UK platform to link local time banks and enable members to fully self-manage.
It is also the first organisation to focus upon B2B time banking, carrying out ongoing research into the benefits to organisatons beyond the initial exchanges, and lobbying central government on challenges relating to time banking at scale. Echo have made their model and its software available to regional organisations seeking to deliver time bank networks in their own areas.
Echo works to develop time exchange as a legitimate way for people, organistions, businesses and corporates to trade, creating a national currency in the process.
Studies and examples
Elderplan was a social HMO which incorporated Time Banking as a way to promote active, engaged lifestyles for its older members. Funding for the "social" part of social HMOs has since dried up and much of the program has been cut, but at its height, members were able to pay portions of their premiums in Time Dollars instead of hard currency. The idea was to encourage older people to become more engaged in their communities while also to ask for help more often and "[foster] dignity by allowing people to contribute services as well as receive them."
Gorbals time bank study
In 2004, Dr. Gill Seyfang published a study in the Community Development Journal about the effects of a Time Bank located in the Gorbals area of Glasgow, Scotland, "an inner-city estate characterized by high levels of deprivation, poverty, unemployment, poor health and low educational attainment." The Gorbals Time Bank is run by a local charity with the intent to combat the social ills that face the region. Seyfang concluded that the Time Bank was effective at "building community capacity" and "promoting social inclusion." She highlights the Time Bank's success at "[re-stitching] the social fabric of the Gorbals." by "[boosting] engagement in existing projects and activities" in a variety of projects including a community safety network, a library, a healthy living project, and a theatre. She writes that "the time bank had enabled people to access help they otherwise would have had to do without," help which included home repair, gardening, a funeral, and tuition paid in Time Dollars to a continuing education course.
Rushey Green Time Bank
Rushey Green Time Bank was the first time bank in the UK to be based in a health-care setting. It is the largest time bank in South East London and it has established a reputation for pioneering work in this field for 12 years. It is based in a medical centre – The Rushey Green Group Practice – in the borough of Lewisham, South East London. The Time Bank operates in a specific catchment area defined by the Rushey Green Ward boundaries in Lewisham.
In 1999, in partnership with the New Economics Foundation, Dr Richard Byng at the Rushey Green Group Practice instigated the idea of the Time Bank. Dr Byng was convinced that increasing their contact with other people could help many of his patients who presented themselves with symptoms of depression and isolation. He also hoped to find a framework in which they could feel useful to society and needed by others. The Time Bank was piloted as an innovative way to promote wellbeing, health, social inclusion and social capital locally. Rushey Green Time Bank became a registered charity in 2004.
The Time Bank continues to be supported by the Rushey Green Group Practice which provides patient-centered holistic care for almost 10000 patients in Catford. Through joint projects between Rushey Green Time Bank and the Rushey Green Group Practice, time bank members can be actively involved in their own health care, and in the promotion of good health.
In recent times the Rushey Green Time Bank has received four awards:
- In 2007, the ‘Let’s do it’ award from the South London press and Barclays Bank
- The 2008 London Health Commission award for ‘Outstanding achievements in partnership with the NHS – activities that bring communities together to work with NHS staff to improve health and well-being’
- The 2008/09 City of London Sustainable City Award for ‘Access to goods and services for disadvantaged communities’
- In 2009, Dr Edgar Cahn’s Founder’s Award ‘For pioneers in enlisting the community to co-produce health and well being’.
Rushey Green Time Bank also hosts the 'Bring and Fix' initiative created by Philippe Granger under the London Leaders 2011 programme.
- Alternative currency
- Community currency
- Local exchange trading system (LETS)
- Private currency
- Social capital
- Time-based currency
- Seyfang, Gill. "Time banks: rewarding community self-help in the inner city?" Community Development Journal 39.1 (January 2004): 63.
- Cahn, Edgar S. No More Throw Away People. Washington, DC: Essential Books, 2004.
- About Time Banking UK Accessed March 23, 2012.
- "Time Banks Directory".
- Cahn, Edgar S. No More Throw Away People. Washington, DC: Essential Books, 2004. xix.
- Cahn, Edgar S. "Time dollars, work and community: from 'why?' to 'why not?'" Futures 31 (1999): 499.
- Cahn, Edgar S. "Time dollars, work and community: from 'why?' to 'why not?'" Futures 31 (1999): 507.
- ibid. 505
- Cahn, Edgar S. No More Throw Away People. Washington, DC: Essential Books, 2004. 87.
- Cahn, Edgar S. No More Throw Away People. Washington, DC: Essential Books, 2004. 5–6.
- "Time Trade NZ".
- "The Five Core Values".
- Seyfang. G. (2004) ‘Time Banks: Rewarding community self-help in the inner city?’ Community Development Journal 39 (1): 66
- Exchanging Services - Banking Time - Strengthening Communities Hour Exchange Portland, Accessed May 30, 2008
- e.g., the Hour Exchange Portland
- e.g., the Cape Ann Time Bank
- In the U.K.: TimeBanking UK; in the U.S.: TimeBanks USA, Portland Time Bank
- Seyfang, Gill. "Re-stitching the social fabric: one favour at a time" Town and Country Planning, September 1, 2001.
- Cahn, Edgar S. No More Throw Away People. Washington, DC: Essential Books, 2004: 59–77.
- Cahn, Edgar S. No More Throw Away People. Washington, DC: Essential Books, 2004: 6.
- Seyfang. G. (2004) ‘Time Banks: Rewarding community self-help in the inner city?’ Community Development Journal 39 (1): 69
- Seyfang. G. (2004) ‘Time Banks: Rewarding community self-help in the inner city?’ Community Development Journal 39 (1): 69.
- Sustainability - The Business of Timebanking.. Time Bank Aotearoa New Zealand, Accessed July 23, 2012.
- Pensabene, Francesco. "TimeRepublik è la banca del tempo mondiale". FOCUS. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
- "TIMEREPUBLIK finalist at LeWeb London". Startupticker. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
- Bolino, Francesca. "Cuochi, scrittori, idraulici ecco la banca online per prestare un' ora di talento". La Repubblica. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
- Louv, Richard. "Time Dollars gain currency helping the needy" San Diego Tribune May 31, 1995.
- Wetzstein, Cheryl. "Seniors use time, not money, to buy services; Idea helps promote independent living" The Washington Times December 17, 1998.
- Seyfang. G. (2004) ‘Time Banks: Rewarding community self-help in the inner city?’ Community Development Journal 39 (1): 64
- ibid. 67–68.
- ibid. 68
- see Bring & Fix | CLES http://www.cles.org.uk/features/bring-fix/
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- TimeBanks Membership Community
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