Who runs Stratford Time bank?

Stratford Time Bank was started in 2012 with help from Gloucester-based charity Fair Shares. In July 2014 Fair Shares handed over responsibility for the Time Bank to Stratford Time Bank CIC, a social enterprise specially set up for this purpose.

Stratford Time Bank’s day-to-day activities, including setting up exchanges for members, are managed by the Time Broker, Sarah Coxall, who is supported by the directors of Stratford Time Bank, which is legally constituted as a community interest company (CIC).

Who can join Stratford Time bank?

Anyone! You don’t need any special skills – just time and the willingness to help others and receive help in return. No matter what your age, ability, financial circumstances or mobility, you can become a valued member of the Time Bank.

Does it cost anything?

No. Stratford Time Bank is free to join – nor do you need to pay an annual subscription.

Can I be a member if I don’t have much time?

Time Banking is flexible – you help when you can. You don’t have to commit to specific days and times. You can do as much or as little as you want – though we like members to try to balance getting help with giving help.

How many time credits can I earn?

You can earn as many time credits as you wish and we encourage you to “spend” your credits by receiving help from other Time Bank members. This is important, so that other Time Bank members can make a difference and feel valued – and it all helps the local community.

Can I give time credits away?

Yes! If you don’t want all your time credits for your own use, you can donate them to Stratford Time Bank’s Community Pot for use by members whose circumstances are such that they can’t earn enough time credits for the extra help they need.

Can I get help when I don’t have any time credits?

People often wonder this when they first join the Time Bank. Don’t worry – you can spend before you earn! All new members are given five hours free time credits to get them going, so you can ask for help even if you are not in a position to give help when you first join the Time Bank. In the future you’ll find opportunities to help others. And if for any reason you need help when you find it difficult to give help, the Community Pot can fund the time.

Can people who can’t earn time credits still get help?

Yes – they can use time donated to Stratford Time Bank’s Community Pot. For example, someone who has just come out of hospital may need help but not be in a position to offer help while they recover. But with time credits from the Community Pot, they can receive the help they need without worrying about how they can repay it.

Can I receive time credits for other volunteering that I do?

Yes – if the organisation with which you are volunteering has joined the Time Bank (which organisations can do). We usually have an arrangement whereby half the time you spend doing voluntary work goes into your personal Time Bank account and half goes into the Time Bank’s Community Pot. Tell the Time Broker if you do voluntary work with another organisation. If that organisation already belongs to the Time Bank, we can arrange to have information about the hours you work sent to the Time Bank. If the organisation is not a member of Stratford Time Bank – perhaps this is an opportunity to see if it will join!

I’m a bit worried about people I don’t know coming to my house

As part of the joining process, every member of Stratford Time Bank is asked to provide references. We don’t let anyone get involved in the Time Bank until we’ve had satisfactory references.

In addition, if you’ve asked for help, you’ll be told the name of the Time Bank member who has offered to help you – and you can ask for them to bring identification with them. When they arrive at your home, ask to see their identification. We can also arrange for the Time Broker to accompany a member to check that everything is satisfactory – we often do this when people are new to the Time Bank. Let the Time Broker know if you would like that to be arranged.

Will Time Banking affect my benefits?

No. The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has officially recognised that time spent in time banking is non-remunerative, so any entitlement to income-related state benefits will not be affected. However, you should contact the Time Broker immediately if you encounter any difficulties with DWP about your participation in Stratford Time Bank.

Will I be liable to pay income tax on any time credits I receive?

No. HM Revenue and Customs has recognised that, because all services exchanged between Time Bank members are valued equally and cannot be exchanged to buy goods or services, time credits have no monetary value and are not taxable income.

Does Stratford Time Bank have insurance?

Yes. Stratford Time Bank has public liability insurance and employer’s liability insurance that covers all its members. For many exchanges, this will provide straight forward cover. But if you are asking for help that might involve something unusual or potentially hazardous, the Time Broker may want to carry out a risk assessment to make sure that the Time Bank’s insurance policy will not be invalidated. In limited circumstances we may refuse to refuse to arrange an exchange if we think that it would not be covered by the Time Bank’s insurance.

If I give someone a lift, will I be covered by Stratford Time Bank’s insurance?

No. This is one of the things excluded from Stratford Time Bank’s insurance policy. If you are offering lifts through the Time bank, you must have

  • a full, valid driving licence, held for a minimum of three years
  • motor insurance cover for the car you are driving
  • a valid MOT certificate for that car
  • up-to-date Road Tax.

If you intend to offer lifts, the Time Broker may ask to see your documentation when you join the Time Bank. You should inform the Time Broker of any change in circumstances.

If you are giving regular lifts to other Time Bank members, it may be advisable to notify your insurance provider: your insurance category may change as a result, but your premium should not be affected.

If you need to be reimbursed for fuel used for the journey, it is permissible to ask for this, but you should agree this with your passenger before you agree to give the lift. The maximum reimbursement allowed under income tax rules is currently 45 pence a mile – but you can charge less or make no charge at all. It’s up to you!