Find out more about Coventry Time Union!
We are pleased to carry this interview with Gemma Musgreaves, the organiser of Coventry Time Union. Please take a few minutes to read the information and get involved!
Could you tell us a bit about Time Union?
Time Union is a time bank open to all adults (18+) with a connection to Coventry. Time Union was launched in December 2014 by the Pod, a Coventry City Council service.
A time bank?
Time banks exist in varying forms all over the world. They are based on a simple system of mutual exchange – one member shares an hour or two of their time with another, and in return gets an hour or two back from somebody else. Exchanges do not have to be direct – so sharing your time opens you up to a large pool of other members with numerous and diverse skills, interests and knowledge.
What are the benefits to the individual and the community?
On an individual level, timebanking gives people an avenue to recognise things that they do as valuable skills, and allows people to meet and connect with others within the city who they may not necessarily have met otherwise – it’s a great way to meet people who share a similar ethos. Of course it’s also a great way to try new things without spending any money, to build skills and experience, or get things done that you don’t like doing! It’s very flexible so members can share an hour every week or every few months – this makes it sustainable as people arrange to meet when & where they like & can dip in and out depending on changing availability. People often say they don’t have the time, but timebanking can actually save you time – you can arrange for somebody to do your ironing or gardening to free up time for you to use on something else.
On a community level, timebanks are a way of maintaining, improving and spreading skills, knowledge & resources throughout our city and society. They increase social capital & give an avenue for unused skills to flourish – by increasing a person’s sense of worth, they can revive the core economy of community. Timebanks can knit communities together as they integrate people from all walks of life. Members are asked to sign up to an ethos, and so timebanking works towards building a community defined through collaboration and reciprocity, rather than competition.
What sorts of things are offered?
Our only restrictions are around childcare and personal care, otherwise it’s pretty much whatever people can come up with! Timebanking is not about displacing services or getting professional support for free, when really it should be paid for. The connectivity is our main goal, with the bonus that you may learn something new, or get a niggling task done. Whilst some members are offering things that they are professional in, others are offering things that they are passionate about, or want to learn together.
What kind of person joins a time bank?
All sorts! We share an ethos of equality & our growing membership reflects this – we have a diverse membership in terms of age, gender, occupation, disability, ethnicity, and experience. We take an explicitly non-targeted approach to spreading the word – advertising in cafes, libraries, services and wherever will show our poster. We encourage each person who likes the idea to think about not only how it may benefit somebody they think needs a hand, but also how it may benefit themselves, their family and friends.
How can people get involved?
All members meet me (Gemma, the Time Broker), usually over a cup of tea, to discuss their interests and how they would like to use Time Union, as well as giving them a chance to ask any questions. If people are not sure how they would like to be involved, we can come up with some ideas together. This meeting can be had before filling out the application form if people are not sure whether they’d like to join but would like to know more. I’ll then follow up references (2 personal referees are asked for on the application) & once they are through, I’ll start arranging exchanges! Depending on availability and referee reply time, the process can take a few days, or over a month.
Contact Gemma Musgreaves (Time Union Broker)
Telephone (work hours or leave a message): 07739 624561
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