A new timebank has opened for residents of the St Nicholas area of Stevenage.

The idea of the scheme is that people can give up their time to help others, and receive help from others in return.

It is based on a successful pilot scheme in Torbay, where people offer their time to help with cleaning, arts and crafts, gardening, dog walking, setting up smart TVs, and even conducting family history research.

Cllr Sandra Barr, councillor for St Nicholas Ward and executive member for co-operative council and neighbourhood communities, had the idea when a friend in Ireland told her that people there would do favours in return for others, almost like a bartering system.

She was "fascinated" by the system - with one person even giving away two pigs in return for having a shed built.


Cllr Barr thinks that the scheme may be helpful, for example, for older people who own properties in Stevenage but may no longer be able to maintain it to the standard they would like.

With this new scheme, they could volunteer to help with the "plethora of other things they could offer in exchange", such as baking or cooking. And in return, they could receive help with activities like gardening or sweeping up leaves.

She also hopes that the scheme will help "people out there who may be cash poor but time rich" by bringing people together.

The Comet: Cllr Sandra Barr hopes that the scheme will help bring people together in St Nicholas.Cllr Sandra Barr hopes that the scheme will help bring people together in St Nicholas. (Image: Pete Stevens)

"There are lots of people - young and old - who have got skills that they could share.

"Sometimes, when people need help, they can get overwhelmed with being on the receiving end.

"There are lots of people out there who want to give back, as well as receive, so this will be a great way to match people up and bring the community together."

You can join the scheme by visiting https://stnicholas.madeopen.co.uk/. Paper application forms can also be picked up by visiting St Nicholas Community Centre.

You receive two points when you join, which can be used to 'purchase' up to two hours of help. Further points can then be accrued by volunteering your own time.

The scheme is funded by the Co-operative Councils Innovation Network and supported by Stevenage Borough Council. If it is successful in St Nicholas, it is hoped that it could be rolled out across Stevenage.