Neighbours helping neighbours

Posted on: 11th December, 2017

Category: Features

Contributor: West Cork People

Designed in 1980 by Edgar Cahn to reward ‘decency, caring, and a passion for justice’, timebanking is an exchange of skills and services within the community.

Inspired by the success of the timebanking movement in the UK, a group of volunteers in West Cork have decided to put their time to good use by setting up the community exchange network, hOUR Timebank West Cork.

Timebanking is built on a very simple principle – you give an hour of your time to your community and in return you receive a time credit, which you can then use in turn when you need help.

Whether it’s washing someone’s car, helping with housework or even just carrying someone’s shopping – it’s all about the giving and receiving of time, giving local people the opportunity to help others in the community in a way they find enjoyable and rewarding. Everyone’s time is equal regardless of the activity involved and there is no money involved.

Time banks across the UK have been successful in helping vulnerable or isolated individuals feel valued and supported through making connections with people in their communities whom they would otherwise not have met.

The Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) in the UK have issued several statements regarding timebanking, which they see as a positive contribution to the community. Not only is the DWP informing local job centres to point people towards Timebanks, they have stated that the hours Jobseekers spend in timebanking activities will count towards the hours that are meant to be spent seeking employment.

“Not only has timebanking in the UK gained support from the goverment, but there has been various support and interactions from County Councils and other authorities,” says Gary Hampton, one of the co-ordinators of hOUR Timebank West Cork.

“We would like to take what we have learned from what’s happening in the UK, and implement a successful Timebanking network in West Cork and in other areas. Clonakilty, where two of our coordinators are based, and other areas of West Cork, already have a vibrant community spirit. We believe that what we looking to achieve will be of great benefit to an already great community. Timebank has been seen to help people with employability, mental health issues, social inclusion, and many other things.”

Fergal Conlon, Social Inclusion Programme Manager at the West Cork Development Partnership commented: “West Cork Development Partnership is delighted to support hOUR Timebank. We are confident it work will add to and support the vibrant and energetic voluntary and community sector in West Cork. We are fortunate to benefit from a tradition and culture of Meitheal, civic engagement and active participation in  our communities. The West Cork Timebank project will enhance and further expand this tradition bringing new communications and social media to maximise the value of volunteerism. We wish the project every success and look forward to working alongside the project leaders to make the project a success.

Mayor of Clonakilty John M Loughnan has also shown his support for the initiative. He commented: “As Mayor of Clonakilty I am pleased to avail of this opportunity to support the concept of Timebank as another important strand in the huge voluntary effort in communities throughout West Cork.

“The Irish word meitheal comes to mind where communities come together to assist one another. I remember as a young boy while on holidays on my uncle’s farm in the Sliamh Luachra area of the Cork Kerry border area seeing neighbours coming together to assist another neighbour save a meadow of hay or a bog of turf which was endanger of being lost by a sudden change in the weather.I often thought what a sense of well being or satisfaction the neighbours must have got from their good deeds.The seanfhocal ‘ní neart go cur le chéile’ ‘together we can make it work’ also come to mind, as I see the great work done by the hard working Clonakilty Tidy Towns Committee year after year coming together working hard for their town and community.”

By embracing Timebank we will all get a greater sense of personal well being and fulfillment, as both individuals and as a community. It will also held social inclusion and social integration…We all have something very positive to contribute to our community and neighbourhood.

I encourage everyone to give serious consideration to Timebank to enable us all to have a more inclusive society.”

With Timebanking, everyday acts of kindness are recognised as the important contribution they are to everyone’s wellbeing. To get involved go to to register.

hOUR Timebank West Cork is in the process of being registered as a charity.

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