St George has a new bank that deals in time, rather than cash, and where all profits go to the community.
It’s a program called time banking, which the state government is encouraging with funding handouts to community services groups.
Disability and ageing minister John Ajaka announced a $15,000 grant to Kogarah Community Services to introduce the program in St George.
Participants gain and redeem credits by exchanging services, such as dog walking, ironing, community gardening, language tuition or phone chats with someone who is isolated.
The program, which operates in 70 communities across NSW, adds a reciprocal aspect to volunteering.
Dorothy Johnston, a retired librarian who lives in Valley Heights in the Blue Mountains, told Fairfax Media this year the program “works miracles”.
Ms Johnston volunteered at a local op shop, but struggled to control her garden and manage the ironing.
She was able to “cash in” the hours she worked in the op shop by having her ironing done by Fiona Worrall, a part-time nurse.
Kogarah Community Services (KCS) operations manager Oonagh McGuire said time banking was a simple concept.
“You give an hour to receive an hour,” she said.
“By giving one hour help to another member, you earn one hour of time credit, which can be used to receive services you need.
“Alternatively you can bank your hour to the KCS ‘Community Chest’, donating your hour to someone within the community in greater need.”
Ms McGuire said KCS made a tentative attempt to introduce the program two years ago but, without government funding, they could not promote and develop the program.
“With the newly allocated funds, we will dedicate some staff time and resources to the development of the initiative,” she said.
Ms McGuire said time banking involved the mutual sharing of time, care, skills and knowledge, and recognised everyone had something to contribute regardless of their age or ability.
“Volunteering is at the heart of KCS, and the work that we do,” she said.
“We value the contribution that our volunteers make each day and want to celebrate their efforts within our local community.”
A study by the University of Newcastle found time banking worked best in smaller communities.
It reported participants enjoyed meeting new people, gaining skills which led to employment, health benefits and the reciprocal nature of the system.
To inquire about time banking in Kogarah, call Danielle on 9587 6622 or drop into the neighbourhood centre at 90 Railway Parade.