1 April 2021

Woolmer Forest Timebank hits the sixth millionth hour mark!

A national charity and its members are celebrating a monumental achievement.

Timebanking UK, the UK’s charity and membership organisation for time banks, has recorded its 6 millionth timebanking hour since it started recording figures nationally in 2007, with a time bank in East Hampshire clocking up the magical 6,000,000th hour with a timebanking exchange that has truly transformed two members’ lives.

In timebanking, members of a community time bank give an hour doing something for another member. This earns them a timebanking hour, which they can ‘bank’, and then ‘spend’ when they want or need a little help themselves. It is very different from traditional volunteering, as members can offer and request anything they like, and they fit it around their own lives, rather than committing to a regular weekly slot.

The time bank who tipped the balance over the magical six million mark was Woolmer Forest Timebank, which serves the town of Whitehill and Bordon – and the team and members couldn’t be happier about their achievement.

“How amazing that Woolmer Forest Timebank is the one time bank out of all the others in the UK who achieved the six millionth timebanking hour!” says the time bank’s manager Claire Coxwell, who runs the time bank along with coordinators Helen Mellows & Rachel Taylor.

“Our growing membership consists of a wonderful group of people who support each other and the local community and swap skills and hobbies in return for time credits,” adds Claire. “We’re funded by the National Lottery’s Community Fund and the project is supported by seven partner organisations.”

The six millionth timebanking hour was given by Woolmer Forest Timebank member Daphne Chennell, who has been supporting another member by phoning her regularly to support her through a very difficult time.

“I’ve received a lot of support and friendship from Woolmer Forest Timebank members since joining, especially during this pandemic when a lot has been done on Zoom,” explains Daphne. “I’ve learnt new crafts and taken part in quizzes, and social evenings. It’s good to know there is always someone to talk to on the telephone or to ask if you need help. It gives me such a good feeling to be able to give something to help someone else in return: it makes me feel useful.”

Sue Carter, the member receiving Daphne’s phone calls adds, “I joined the local time bank because I’d been a carer for years and needed to get out and about. Twenty months ago, my adult son became very ill with sepsis. It’s destroyed his mind and body. With his demands, needs and the Covid lockdown, I’m housebound, and totally stressed and worn out. I was left feeling that nobody cares.

“Daphne and Claire from Timebank have been calling me regularly for a chat. This is not only very welcome, but it also makes me feel that someone does care. What would I have done without the members of our Timebank? Something drastic, I expect. The Timebank is an amazing group because it’s about helping others, and we all need someone that cares in our lives, don’t we?”

TBUK’s CEO Sarah Bird has been involved in the timebanking movement since 2005. She says, “We at
Timebanking UK are so pleased to be able to celebrate with Claire and Helen, who, like all our time bank
coordinators, have been working hard to adjust to the changes Covid has wrought upon us. Claire and her
time bank team have been hosting online quizzes, Sunday Socials, and even photography courses to keep
people from feeling isolated during lockdown.

“We’re proud of the way our time banks have responded to the pandemic – but I know that they can’t wait to start timebanking in person again. Each hour that people give and receive as part of their community time bank isn’t only people swapping time – it’s the building of a relationship and in many cases, a friendship.

“Timebanking is a way of helping someone out for an hour and earning a timebanking hour in return, which can be spent on receiving an hour of someone else’s time. No money is exchanged, and everyone in the community can contribute – we’ve had time bank members give knitting lessons, build sheds, bake cakes, sand tables… you name it, someone in our timebanking community can do it. We’ve even time bank members offering chicken therapy, laughter yoga and hand massage.

“Because an hour is equally valuable to every human being, and everybody has something to give, timebanking can help each and every person to feel engaged and valued – and it’s a highly effective tool for alleviating loneliness. Timebanking can bridge divides of age, education, race, class, gender, national origin — because it defines people by what they are prepared to do for others.

“We look forward to being able to celebrate in person with Claire, Helen and the team but for now, we wish them a hearty congratulations – and we look forward to the seven millionth timebanking hour!”

Timebanking UK delivers regular online Introduction to Timebanking sessions, which are open to anyone – the next one takes place at 11am on Wednesday 21 April. More details and dates are on the TBUK website. You can also find where your local timebank is based at this link.

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