By Paul Trainer, Information Officer for Torbay Together (www.torbaytogether.org.uk)
Are you looking to meet new friends at a local coffee morning or quiz event? Perhaps you need to know what support groups there are in Torbay for people living with chronic pain, experiencing bereavement, or who have a loved one with dementia?
Or maybe you are part of a support or activity group looking for new members or volunteers?
If the answer is yes to any of these, why not visit Torbay Together, an online platform managed by Torbay Community Development Trust and the go-to site for anyone providing or seeking community services in Torbay.
Torbay Together enables individuals and organisations to interact in a way that supports the development of a connected community. At its core is a searchable database of groups, events, activities and volunteer opportunities. It’s free and easy to join, and once you have, you can connect with over 1,200 other members across the bay and browse the database to find local activities that match your needs or interests.
If you run a community group or organisation – of whatever size – you can promote your group or venue, advertise your events or put a call out for volunteers. In addition, your events, listings and calls for volunteers will be shared on the Torbay Together Facebook and Twitter feeds, helping your message reach even more people. And there are free in-person surgeries offered to show you how to make the most of Torbay Together, either at the Torbay Community Café in Temperance St, Torquay or at your own venue (wi-fi connection required).
Torbay Together is also where you can join the Timebank – a skills share where time spent helping others earns you time spent on yourself. The Timebank works very simply. Let’s say you’re a keen gardener: you could lend a hand to someone who has problems looking after their own garden, or who just needs a bit of advice on putting the right plant in the right place. In return, you might get help putting up that shelf you’ve been needing at home. Timebank broker Ruth Tshoukas, who holds a weekly gathering at the Bright Bean Café; has seen many exchanges result in lasting friendships.
“One lady came to a Timebank meeting and enjoyed it so much that she came every week and made firm friends. She gets on so well with one member that they have booked a holiday together and also rented a beach hut! They had regular get-togethers all through the summer. It has opened up their social life and they’ve both made new friends.”
Ruth also tells of a local nursing home who were looking for a befriender for people who never left their rooms.
“I knew a Timebanker who I thought would be the right person to fulfil that befriending role. She started going to the home and had wonderful conversations with one particular resident. Before she came, he was lethargic and wouldn’t drink; staff were worried. But when he met her he sat up and engaged with her, he drank and talked for an hour. The Timebank befriender left feeling fantastic.”
Timebank Coordinator Theo explains the potential rewards of the scheme. “We have one long-standing member who had contributed so much time to others that she was able to organise her entire 70th birthday celebrations on the back of them. Her time credits paid for the hire of the venue, the entertainer, the food, and the cake. It was a fantastic event and she danced the night away!”
Despite the tangible benefits that Timebank can bring, however, many members will tell you that the biggest reward from their efforts is from the sense of wellbeing, purpose and personal connection they receive in offering help to other people.
So at this traditional time of goodwill to others, why not consider making a new year’s resolution to join the Timebank?
You can join Timebank – and find much more – at www.torbaytogether.org.uk. And if you’re not online, just speak to one of our Timebank brokers:
Paignton Timebank Broker, Ruth Tshoukas – call 07703 715236
Torquay Timebank Broker, Sandra Harper – call 07966 743125
You can also find out more and meet other Timebank members at the Bright Bean Café in Preston on a Wednesday morning.
Torbay Together’s has a help page to enable you to get started but assistance is also available by contacting Paul Trainer, Information Officer – call 07971 951429