Derbyshire County Council have introduced a new scheme which is already accessible (albeit little advertised) across the entire county. Time Swap is intended to encourage local communities to help each other by sharing time and talents.
The idea is simple, you start off with one hour of time in your account and with that you can call on the services of another Time Swapper for something that you need or want but do not have the skills, health or funds to achieve. You can bank more time by filling other people’s needs.
An example given in the DCC literature is:
Mrs Briggs loves having a cup of tea and a chat and Mrs Thomas is feeling isolated as she has no family nearby. The Time Swap would arrange for Mrs Briggs to visit Mrs Thomas for a cuppa and, in return, Mrs Briggs will earn an hour in the community Time Swap.
Mrs Briggs needs a little help with her garden so she contacts the Time Swap Broker and redeems her hour earned for an hour of gardening from Mr Gordon, another community Time Swap member.
And there is no restriction on the skills that can be traded (beyond the law). It can be gardening, sewing, ironing, company, computer skills, cleaning, DIY, running errands…anything at all.
The Time Swap Team are willing to visit groups, businesses and organisations to promote and discuss the scheme and are eager for more volunteers to join the 37 members that they currently have signed up.
The potential to improve life for elderly, disabled, secluded and sick community members is huge but obviously younger able bodied people need to sign up too so that there is a rounded group of skills. Why not trade your gardening skills for some sewing or fix someone’s computer in return for learning how to make beer?
To make sure that everyone is safe, the council run a check on everyone applying to join the scheme so that no-one is put at risk and can trust that the people coming to help or being visited really are who they say they are and really are community minded helpers.
The potential is enormous and there is only one catch, you have to be willing to give help as well as receive it.
At present the initiative is very low tech; to participate one has to fill in a questionnaire. You can download the questionnaire here, phone 01629 533190 to request more information or email: Timeswap@derbyshire.gov.uk.
By C.L. Washbrook