It's Time Banking time

This article was first published in the Wairarapa News in September 2012

Evidence indicates that New Zealand has become a much more unequal society over recent decades. A number of voices are reminding us that economic inequality is the No.1 ingredient of much of our social distress. So the emergence of Time Banks couldn’t be more timely: they help to reassert mutual respect and rebuild social capital.

Time Banking weaves a community together, building trust and relationship an hour at a time. Every hour we spend doing something for someone in our community earns us an hour of having someone do something for us. It’s that simple!

New Zealanders are finding the idea of a connected community very attractive. Just when we are coming to understand that poverty has much more to do with isolation than with income, Time Banking is waking us up to a wealth of neighbourhood skill, knowledge, humour and goodwill we might never have imagined.

In communities with a Time Bank, tasks that have been put off for years for lack of cash get done; people feel richer for new learning and contacts; the elderly and those with special needs are supported in their own homes; children who had struggled at school become proficient scholars; newcomers to the district feel at home; anonymous strangers become friendly neighbours; demand for crisis services drops dramatically.

As shown on our map, the density of Time Banks in Canterbury – many of them inspired into being by Lyttelton Time Bank’s ability to help earthquake victims – speaks volumes about the practical support these mutual assistance circles provide. What community wouldn’t want one?

The key to the phenomenal difference Time Banks make in members’ lives is the set of positive attitudes they encourage:

  • all of us have something we can contribute to our community
  • each of us has the missing piece of someone else’s puzzle
  • the contributions I make are every bit as needed and valued as those I receive
  • it’s easier to pay for what we need with what we have to spare
  • your time and mine have equal value, no matter what service is rendered
  • we don’t need to rely on or wait for others to come up with solutions
  • we have what we need if we use what we have.