Sharing time around the world

By David Gledhill, Marketing and Communications Lead

You never know when a kindness and a bit of hard work might be repaid, but you certainly don’t expect it when you are seven thousand miles away from home in America.

But for Torbay timebankers, Ann Whitehouse, 70, from Torquay and her friend Jenny Wills from Galmpton that is exactly what happened on a recent holiday to Florida.

It was already shaping up to be a trip of a lifetime for the pair, swimming with dolphins visiting Sea World and touring Florida, but meeting up with timebankers across the pond was a bonus.

Ann and 68-year-old care worker, Jenny were staying in Orlando when they hit upon the idea of visiting timebanks 80 miles away in Tampa and another a further 45 miles away in Spring Hills.

And that is where the hours of hard work both of them have put into the timebank here in Torbay kicked in with lifts, accommodation and meals all sorted.

A lift was hastily arranged down to Tampa and another onto Spring Hills where they joined the weekly meeting before staying overnight with the local timebank organiser, Andy LePage.

For all the timebanks – Torbay, Spring Hills, and Tampa – involved it was the first time hours, or credits as they are known, had been exchanged internationally:

“Jenny and Anne were absolutely delightful, and they shared many of their timebanking activities with our members. They gave us our first “international” meeting, and we’re grateful for their being with us,” said Andy.

For Ann and Jennie, it was an opportunity to introduce the Americans to the concept of Yarnbombing, something the Floridians had to look up in the dictionary before describing it on their website.

But they were also able to share stories about their respective lives in Torbay and Tampa, something they all enjoyed.

“How grateful I am to all the wonderful people in timebanking! To be able to finally get the ladies a car ride from Tampa to Land O Lakes,” enthused Andy.

And then to have our new member Andy Wilson say “What time should I be there to pick up Jenny and Anne and transport them 100 miles back to Orlando?” — well it doesn’t need to get better than that!

“And all of this for timebanking hours and a few dollars for gas. And best of all, Tampa Bay Time and the Spring Hill Timebank now have a great connection with two wonderful ladies from the UK. And we learned much about Ageing Well Torbay, the Timebank to which Jenny and Anne belong in the UK,” said Andy

For Ann and Jenny, it was the icing on the cake: “They were lovely, people,” said Jenny with Ann adding, “It was wonderful, we learned a lot from them and they were just so kind and helpful.”

On the Torbay Together sharing website we can’t promise free holidays, but we can promise credit for hours worked or shared.

Since the Torbay Together sharing website relaunched earlier this month the number of people signed up to the Torbay Timebank has gone up by more than 200 to just short of 600 with more joining every week.

Credits are being earned and exchanged, and the possibilities are endless – you might need a haircut, jobs doing in the garden, help with your shopping, your dog walking, or some small DIY tasks done around the home.

On the timebank right now is a request from someone who just wants some company – either in their own home or out and about and another for someone who needs help taking their net curtains down.

No matter what the skill given or received, everyone’s time is valued equally; one hour of sharing skills or helping others is recognised by giving that person one hour as a time credit – a community loyalty point.

In simple terms, it is about being a good neighbour and being rewarded for it. Your skills put to best use for someone who needs them and really appreciates them. Already 5,877 hours have been exchanged – that is near to 250 days!

Members of the Torbay Together Strategic Partnership have thrown their weight behind the relaunch of Torbay Together – the sharing website, designed to give everyone access to a wealth of opportunities and information.

Major employers across the Bay are also planning a mass sign up of employees to increase the bank of volunteers available with interest shown by Torbay Council, South Devon College and the Department of Works and Pensions.

If you want to get involved, sign up to volunteer or ask for help go to or ring the Torbay Community Development Trust on 01803 212638.