I moved to Hull in 1992 to study Psychology and apart from a couple of years living near Hornsea I’ve been here ever since. I love this city, its down to earthiness and friendliness and connectiveness. It’s a wonderful time to live here with the promise of the City of Culture to show the world what we’ve got to offer!
I’m sat in my shed in this photo because it was here back in 2011 that I was mulling over the impact of the recession on the city and the people. Having been made redundant myself some years before, I understood the effect this had on my sense of identity and on my confidence and wellbeing. I felt strongly in my gut that now was the time to develop timebanking, something which had been on my ‘to do’ list for some time in the context of my work in mental health (I had been a researcher and amongst other things led the development of PSYPHER, the early psychosis service). I realised that for the timebank to work, the whole community needed to be involved and that a mechanism was needed to facilitate questions about what people could offer rather than focus purely on what they need. It felt important to just do it right then and that like in the film ‘The Field of Dreams’, the people would come and the resources to make it happen would follow.
And that is what happened! We now have more than 400 members across the city including individuals, communities of interest (including PSYPHER) and organisations and businesses and the momentum is building. And this is the key thing – the timebank belongs to everybody. It is a mechanism which can help get things done. It unlocks the hidden assets within our communities which have always been there and it is beautiful!
The reason I have a heart in the photo is because for me timebanking is not just about ‘reweaving communities’, it is about love. Having the privilege to facilitate this and be a member myself takes it beyond work – its life! I’ve learnt so much too, that to break down barriers and stigma between groups happens when people come together with common values and that because everyone is equal, it enables people to connect who would never do so in normal circumstances. I call this a quiet revolution, a movement which enables us to exchange without money and value each other perhaps recognising that we are not so different after all. For people who have been ‘recipients of services’ the time bank enables them to be active citizens, being able to contribute as well as receive. I’ve met so many amazing people and it is wonderful observing friendships being made, interest groups being set up and exchanges happening.
And now it’s going to be even easier to get involved as last week we migrated to new software which means members can manage their own accounts (we even have a phone app freeing brokers up to spend more time supporting members who are less confident to get going. The range of things on offer is huge but the ones I have been most excited about recently include being able to get married for time credits. We even have a member with a vintage wedding car!
Timebanking is a way of connecting people and organisations to exchange skills and resources where time is the principal currency. In a sense it is like going back to the old days of bartering but the difference is no matter what is exchanged, for every hour you give, you get an hour back which you can ‘spend’ getting something you need. Everyone’s contribution is valued equally from rebuilding a wall, to having a massage to picking up some shopping for someone who can’t get out. To find out more about timebanking visit our website www.timebankhullandeastriding.co.uk
The Changing Face Exhibition preview event is happening on April the 2nd you can book tickets for it by following this link:
Photo © Quentin Budworth