Former adult education teacher Lorraine Ward, 67, is an enthusiastic member of Timebanking because, she says, it opens all sorts of doors and there’s no pressure to do anything.
It’s a way of exchanging skills without any money changing hands, doing what you love when you want to – and getting a little help when you need it.
For every hour you spend helping someone, you earn an hour back from your timebank.
"Lots of people are reluctant to sign up because they don’t think they have anything to offer,” Lorraine says. “But once you join you realise ‘I could do that.’
"You can do someone’s shopping or weeding, for example. You don’t need a degree or work experience.
" If you have a driving licence, you can give people a lift to their medical appointment, to catch a bus or train or just to the supermarket.
"During the pandemic, I got involved with a penfriend. It was really interesting. We’re both from the same part of London – Isleworth – and we wrote to each other for two and a half years.
"Our group also kept in touch with the elderly and isolated. We rang every day to make sure they were all right. And we all created new friendships.”
Lorraine has taught a sewing group, run free yoga classes and offered help with composing letters and CVs.
“It’s so relaxing,” she smiles. “We have a weekly get together, have a cup of tea and a chat about what everyone’s doing. There are no expectations and no pressure at all.
"New members like the fact there’s a focus, where they can meet in a safe environment. Because sometimes it’s difficult to ask people you don’t know to do something.”
And there’s the additional bonus of becoming interested in something you may know nothing about.
Lorraine recalls: “Someone ran a class on stone painting and one man is now completely hooked – he went out and bought all the kit.
"It opens up all sorts of new ideas.”
Every now and again, Timebanking runs a Jazz up Your Life event. It’s all voluntary with a group of dancers putting on a display and everyone being invited to join in, dancing and singing.
Residents of local care homes are invited and everyone has a whale of a time.
The scheme is run by Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity in partnership with Central Bedfordshire Council and Timebanking UK.
Beds RCC spokesperson Bex McBrearty says: “Timebanking is a great way to share your skills, make friends and feel supported by your community.
"Sharing time with local people helps us to feel creative, confident and connected.
"Maybe you could walk the dog, bake a cake or just have chat?
"For each hour you give, you also gain an hour of free help with what you need.”
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