People who sign up to the planned ‘time bank’ scheme would be able to offer skills or services to their neighbours. In exchange, they would be able to call on neighbours for any help they themselves may need back. Under the scheme, participating residents would then ‘trade time’ with each other.
Time banks are a way of helping to develop community networks, promote wellbeing and reduce social isolation. They maintain the independence of people who may be vulnerable by helping them give and receive help. They can also provide an important safety net and early warning system when people are not already known to service providers but need help. Anyone can take part, regardless of their abilities.
The Council’s ‘Reading: Working Better with You’ programme included a series of ‘Let’s Talk’ community engagement and consultation events in late 2011. Reading residents listed ‘having good neighbours’ as one of the top ten most important things which would help make their area a good place to live. Residents also felt a ‘the sense of community spirit’ was important.
The on-going dialogue with communities has highlighted that people are willing to take an active role in their community but may need help to do it. Time banking does just that allowing people at a local level to connect, in order to support each other.
A report will now go to a meeting of Reading Borough Council’s Cabinet on March 12 proposing that an external organisation be invited to develop, run and evaluate time bank pilots, with the Council committing £80,000 funding over two years. This exciting new scheme would be trialled across three Reading locations. When appointed, the organisation would work closely with the local community in developing, setting up and delivering these pilots.
Mike Orton, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Adult Social Services, said: ‘This scheme has two big benefits. It will enable people to get help with jobs that they need done more easily and it will allow people to be more active and get to know people in their community.’
Rachel Eden, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Housing and Neighbourhoods, added: ‘The proposed time bank pilot will be a great way to build community spirit and connect people in their neighbourhoods. By working better together in our communities those in the time bank will be able to help make Reading and their neighbourhood and even better place to live.’
The Council’s Adult Social Care Prevention Framework ‘Your Life: Your Say,’ endorsed by Cabinet in June 2011, committed to developing a time bank pilot in Reading.