Cowley Time Bank scheme helps community work, rest and play
ONE good turn deserves another at an unusual volunteering scheme in East Oxford.
The Cowley Time Bank, launched six months ago, allows people to earn “time credits” by helping out in their community.
From odd jobs in neighbours’ homes to help in running events for the Time Bank’s partner organisations, the list of opportunities is long.
Now more than 30 people are using the scheme, which is so far available to residents in the Cowley, Temple Cowley and Cowley Marsh wards. Organiser Hannah Fenton hopes it can expand across the city. She said: “The idea is that you spend one hour of your time helping someone locally and you earn an hour of time credit to spend on someone else.
“You can also earn time credits at some of the larger events we run, but it could be something like driving someone to an appointment or having a look at a broken tap.
“One of our members recently designed a website for someone.”
She said the response to the scheme, which has already recruited 1,500 volunteers under the name “Fair Shares” in Gloucestershire, had been huge.
She said: “It’s been incredibly positive. We deliberately focused on one area because it is about being a good neighbour, but we’re hoping it can expand.”
One of the members is 37-year-old Vicky Rainbow, a movement and relaxation coach. She took part in a recent Time to Play event organised by the Time Bank at the Ark T Centre in Cowley.
She said: “I’m new to the area and it seemed a great way of meeting people and sharing my skills.
“I took part in the Time to Play event, so I have four hours of time credit banked from that, and I also went along to a guitar event.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what I can get involved with.”
Fellow member Fiona Mullins, 48, added: “We’re keen to get more neighbourhood interaction.
“Getting involved in conversations and knowing more people makes places more safe and means people have more fun.”
The Time Bank is partnered with the Ark T Centre and the Barracks Lane Community Garden, where volunteers also earn time credits.
Su Frizzell, an environmental artist who goes by the name of “Groovy Su”, runs children’s activities at the Ark T Centre.
She said: “In this day and age when people are struggling to find work, if people can stay engaged with their communities then that’s a really good thing.”
* To find out more go to oxontime banks.org or call 07594 064092.