In recognition of all the volunteer work being done in West Cork, the hOur Timebank Trustees recently approved the creation of a “Community Chest” initiative funded with 1,000 reward hours. These will be used to honor volunteers throughout the region for nonpaid service to the community. Bona fide volunteers in such efforts as specialized charity groups, Tidy Towns, youth and sports, education, resident associations, environmental and numerous other endeavours will qualify.
As a registered charity, hOur Timebank is itself a volunteer effort that strives to advance the community wellbeing through greater day-to-day engagement. West Cork-based, its concept is modeled on successful worldwide programmes. We look to strengthen community self-reliance within West Cork. We provide a hub/exchange for trading “time credits”. Each credit is earned by your volunteer hour, which you may then redeem for another’s volunteer hour. Thus, hOur Timebank provides a way for promoting and coordinating community self-help.

People provide services to each other voluntarily, by giving their “time”. Although this is always the neighborly thing to do, our approach goes beyond just help and simple barter. The “time bank” hub allows members to give and receive “time”, therein every person’s time is equally valued. No money is exchanged; all services are recognised. This allows for a greater exchange of services than might be available from nearby neighbors (always an important source for help).

A community timebank “bulletin board” and social media presence allows for a wider selection of service offers to meet developing requests. This is not to displace our community businesses, but rather to supplement with services that can be provided in a few hours by a skilled volunteer member. Types of tasks are quite diverse to include help with gardening or DIY repairs, training in crafts, software, or cooking; help with lifting or transport. Possibilities are endless.

Any volunteer serving in West Cork (and over time beyond) is eligible to join the network. There is no fee. Enrollment is easy on the timebanking website and folks can immediately begin collecting Community Chest time credits for their verified volunteer contributions.

As a pilot programme, the focus is initially on West Cork. It is anticipated in future years to expand time banking and volunteer awards throughout Ireland.