L’ARDOISE: A new way to share knowledge and services is taking shape in Richmond County.

Launched on August 2, 2018, the Community Skill Exchange-Richmond County TimeBank is an organized, not-for-profit, web-based way to share skills or energy to help others.

Tara Paon, Richmond County TimeBank coordinator, said membership is confidential and people can offer “anything and everything,” whether it’s help achieving wellness, locating someone to do home repairs, assistance with computer questions, searching for companionship, recreation, crafts, music, or education opportunities. There are also people offering home care or respite care, counselling, volunteer opportunities, shopping, members are offering their homes, gardening, cleaning, others offer help cooking meals, then are those willing to assist business start-ups.

“It’s bartering, but expanding on the bartering system,” Paon explained, noting that instead of offering money, members offer their time. “There are tonnes of people who are still bartering, whether they realize it or not. The thing is you’re bartering with people you already know. This is with people you didn’t know and it can get you in touch with services that you didn’t even know existed.”

In addition to helping those who cannot afford some services, Paon noted that the program can combat social isolation and allows groups to identify those in need of assistance.

When participants spend an hour doing a job or sharing a skill for a member or multiple members, they earn a time credit. That time credit can be exchanged with another member’s time, or bank the credit for a later time. Those who get involved can exchange something they enjoy in exchange for something they want or need. An hour of one member’s time is equal to an hour of another member’s time. Members use a very simple on-line tool to build a profile that lets others know what they want to give and receive while tracking time credits going in and out of their TimeBank account.

For those who don’t use a computer, assistance from the TimeBank Coordinator is available by phone. With a large senior population, Paon said the program provides a “Guardian Angel” to help manage profiles on-line.

“For example, either they can call me and I can manage their profiles for them, or another member can get credits to help manage seniors’ accounts via computer,” Paon noted.

Paon said the TimeBank compliments existing programs, especially those targeted at allowing seniors to live in their homes. While it is a definitely an asset, the TimeBank does not want to compete with those providing paid services.

“The people that are having someone clean their house, couldn’t afford to have someone come in and clean their house anyway,” Paon responded. “What it’s saving people, aka the taxpayers, now it’s less time that they’re going to have to be in a hospital. The longer people can stay in their home, the cheaper it is for people in the county, or taxpayers in general. That’s why the Nova Scotia Government is really pushing any program like this.”

TimeBanks are successfully used world-wide and is a program supported by the province. A similar program was created by the community of St. Ann’s in Cape Breton, which successfully launched their time banking program in 2016. Their TimeBank is still going strong today.

In Richmond County, the TimeBank currently has 89 members (seven of which are non-profit groups), with 101 hours exchanged and 76 offers.

For more information or to sign-up visit: richmondcounty.timebanks.org or call the Dr. Kingston Memorial Community Health Centre at 902-587-2800.