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Timebanking in the time of Covid

Globally the Timebank community has been activated to assist people in countries around the world during the COVID-19 crisis. At home here in Aotearoa New Zealand, the members that make up the Northland branch, Tai Tokerau Timebank acted as a safety net for their communities showcasing the value of Timebank not only during times of prosperity, but also during emergencies. Timebank was proven essential for people, helping them stay connected and engaged over those long and difficult 6 weeks of lockdown.

The coordination team. Top row: Paula Walker (Te Hiku), Anna Dunford (Regional Coordinator), Charlotte Boss (Bay of Islands-Whangaroa). Bottom row: Graeme Kettle (Kaikohe-Hokianga) and Greer Rasmussen (Whāngārei).

The Timebank network of over 280 active members were united in a new common goal, to look after one another during the Lockdown. These community-minded people were able to offer and ask for help exactly where it was needed. The Timebank platform ensured that those who needed assistance or social contact had access to it without bursting their bubbles. Timebank exchanges have proven to be a strong network of support in and out of crisis.

Phone trees were available to provide mental and emotional support with Timebankers offering phone calls to people who may have been suffering from loneliness. Neighbours helped to support their more vulnerable neighbours with shopping; sharing food and triaging resources for those who were short on cashflow, and cloth facemasks were made for a local foodbank staff. The team of local coordinators, one for each ward of FNDC, plus one for Whāngārei, enabled these connections to be made.

Over the last few months, hundreds of people across Northland stayed connected to each other through Timebank, finding creative ways to make exchanges over the phone or online. Many Timebankers got together virtually to attend regular Zoom gatherings. People could share and learn new skills in workshops about off-grid homesteading, gardening, sourdough bread baking and how-to DIY courses like eco-friendly cleaning products from locally foraged ingredients. There were Zoom sing-alongs and Crafternoons. People also found a much needed cerebral distraction and social interaction in regular virtual discussion groups on topics like Alternative Economics and book clubs, all offered by people in the community.

“The interest for many seemed to be in ‘going back to basics’, with lots of folk keen to be self-reliant in a crisis. People shared knowledge on baking, growing food, composting tips and foraging local ingredients in our weekly Gardening Q&A Zoom sessions.

Sharing these skills amongst young and old, and all skill levels across all economic status, makes our communities resilient in our shared strengths.” says TTT regional coordinator Anna Dunford of the value of Timebanking virtually during Lockdown.

“We’re very glad to be getting back to doing in person events, but should the Covid levels go back up, we’re ready to switch back again and build on the connections already established between individuals. Having seen what was achieved a number of members have offered to take on a bigger role in assisting others should the need arise, which just shows the importance of sharing our timebanking stories with our members and the wider community.”

  • If people are interested in becoming a part of Timebank, membership is 2 timecredits or $10 for the year, and open to all in the rohe. Please sign up at new applicants have to complete an orientation process with one of the local coordination team before having their membership approved.

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