Changing the conversation about health

Timebanking UK

timebank rushey green diy photo_ppt Timebanking UK is the national umbrella charity supporting time banks by providing inspiration, guidance and practical help. Time banks link people locally to share their time and skills to improve their health and wellbeing. Each member’s time is equal. With the twin drivers of the need for more self-reliance caused by the public deficit crisis and the current government’s commitment to hand more power and responsibility to local communities and citizens, the political climate could not be more conducive to time banking.
Year established
Number of staff
Paid Staff (FT equivalent) 5, Associates 20+
Number of users
280 Time banks with over 30,000 members
Is there a charge to users?
What makes your project sustainable?
Policies in place for both reviewed annually
All ages. All backgrounds. All abilities.

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Timebanking is leading a quiet revolution in the provision of health care by;

  • Mobilising people and recognising personal strengths as well as family, friends, communities and peer networks that can work alongside health professionals.
  • Redefining the relationship between patients and healthcare professionals, focusing on the needs and aspirations of patients, but with both sides gaining more from the relationships.
  • Blurring the artificial boundaries between health, public health and social care, and between formal and informal support for patients

Our Time-based currency is tax free, and earning and spending time credits does not affect people’s Benefits

  • One hour of help given to someone else earns one time credit.
  • These time credits are deposited in the time bank.
  • People can then draw out their time credits from the time bank and spend them on a range of skills and opportunities on offer from the other local participants.
  • Everyone’s contribution is welcomed and everyone’s skills are valued equally – one hour earns one time credit regardless of the type of task.
  • Details of all of the participants’ skills, needs, availability and likes and dislikes are stored confidentially in the time bank computer.
  • When they want a task done, participants contact the time bank coordinator, who acts as an intermediary and arranges for an appropriate participant to carry out the assignment.
  • Computer software counts each transaction made between participants and issues people with regular statements.

New time banks open every week and timebanking now operates in 33 countries

Patient-Centred, whole person preventative approach
Timebanking is the ultimate tool for the co-production of preventative, strenghts-based and holistic approaches to interdependent living.
Evidence informed practice/audit and evaluation

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NESTA calculated, based on a range of studies, that People-Powered Health initiatives along the lines of timebanking could cut NHS costs by at least 7% and maybe up to a fifth. Evidence of other peer support programmes in the UK and abroad suggest that they give rise to savings in public costs of around £1 to £3 per pound invested, and more for the Health Champions volunteer programme which is closest to what is being proposed here, where there are savings in improved health and also in improvements in the lives and employment prospects of the champions themselves.The results of modelling the benefits of time banks, by a team led by Martin Knapp at the London School of Economics in partnership with Timebanking UK, found that the cost per time bank member averages less than £450 a year, but that the value of the economic and social benefits exceeded £1,300 per member.Peer support services in mental health are also extremely cost-efficient. The cost per day for one acute mental health hospital in-patient has been calculated to be £259; by comparison, the Leeds Survivor-Led Crisis Service successfully supports people at £180 per day.”Among the many evaluations of time banks for older people the key findings from the VNSNY Time Bank’s evaluation, a one-off survey of members, concluded:

  • 48% reported improvements in self-rated physical health.
  • 72% reported improvements in self-rated mental health.
  • 73% of those with a low annual income reported that membership helped them save money.
  • 82% reported improved quality of life
  • 93% reported that they are now exchanging with and befriending members of different ages, backgrounds and cultures.
  • 79% reported that the time bank will help them to remain in their homes as they age.
  • 67% reported increased access to health and other community services.
  • 98% reported that, despite their advanced years, they are now able to use their skills to help others.
Multi-disciplinary collaboration, and professional communication

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  • GPs writing ‘prescriptions’ for home visits where practical and emotional support is provided by time bank members who are fellow patients, and who themselves then visit the GP less frequently as a result of their participation.
  • Community ‘wellness classes’ rewarding people with time credits for taking more control of their own health needs and support – from how to deal with an asthma attack, to detecting the first signs of depression.
  • Self-help telephone support services by time bank members, using an assessment procedure designed by clinicians but operated by fellow patients, dramatically reducing the incidence of hospital admissions.
  • A social network within a residential centre for women recovering from substance abuse, where training and support are provided by women for women, and ‘paid’ for in time credits through their own time bank.
  • A rural time bank offering a ‘health insurance’ scheme under which all members are guaranteed two weeks’ home support from other participants after an accident or illness.

These are all small ideas, carried out on a small scale, but they make a big difference to those involved, both as givers and receivers of these semi-formal services. The key question which lies behind them is this: what would public services be like, and health services in particular, if this kind of idea was mainstream and at the heart of the NHS?

Contact details
The Exchange,
Brick Row,

Tel: 01453 750952

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