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TIMEBANK: PART II – The Will to Write

November 11, 2013

(pause to groan at the frankly awful punning title)

I have written about the Timebank scheme before, when I first took part.  You can see that blog here.

This month, I am doing two events:
23rd November 2013 – 1 pm –  5pm, Lee Green Community Group, 3 Leegate SE12 8SS
30th November 2013 – 12.30 pm – 4.30 pm, Sydenham Community Library, 210 Sydenham Road SE26 5SE

This is such a wonderful scheme to be involved in.  At first, I thought my skills were not what would have been needed or wanted at such events.  I write Wills, as my profession (in part, I also freelance content write and legal secretary for filthy lucre, and write poems and prose for fun) and did not see how anyone could possibly want such skills utilised in what is usually deemed leisure hours.  Being a Will writer, I naturally see such documents as incredibly important.  Also, I have real personal pleasure and a feeling of achievement from helping to ensure people are secure and feel happy that they have made provision for their loved ones at what will be a time of intense personal grief.  I could not see how that skill would be useful at a Timebank.

I was so wrong, and gladly so.  Not everyone can afford to have professional Wills drawn up, and although you can obtain basic forms from stationers across the nation, they do not provide you with the rules you must follow and language that will ensure your bequests and desires are met exactly as you would wish them to be.

It’s so easy to make a fundamental error, from not having the signing of your Will validly witnessed or leaving out wording which takes your bequest from cast-iron to possibly intestate (usually if a person has died before you, or if you have left a bequest to a ‘class’ of people such as grandchildren without specifying a deadline as to when grandchildren have to be born or have passed away by).  This can tie up estates for many years.

Sometimes things can affect your estate without you realising.  Say you aren’t married to or in a civil partnership with your partner, but have children.  If you do not leave a life interest in the home you share with your partner to your partner, they have no right to live there (unless you jointly own the property).  Further, if you are not married or civilly partnered, then your partner has no right to any of your estate at all (unless jointly owned).  I have dealt with Probate of such estates and the pain this can cause is tremendous.

The best thing about the Timebank for me is not the skills I share, though.  It is being a part of a community in which time is given freely, to help those around you.  I too benefit; I cannot sew and there are always people there with their sewing machines ready to sew, mend, fix and teach others how to do so.  Bike repairs are taught and made, music is shared, computer skills and basic IT help is given – in fact anything that is not a skilled profession (Timebank is strict not to impinge on paid employment) is possible.

It is not simply an event held once a month either.  People earn ‘hour’ tokens, which I usually donate.  People can register with the Timebank, and thus elderly and mobility-impaired people can donate their skills from their home in exchange for help with household tasks they might not otherwise be able to manage (again, not taken the place of trained Carers) such as a simple lightbulb change, or simply spending time with someone.

People sometimes need permission in some way to help others out, for fear of infringing on their personal space or making assumptions about needs, or simple embarrassment.  I know I have felt this way.  Timebank allows you to do that.

Whilst people do donate skills they would also charge for, Timebank is very careful not to impinge on the waged sphere.  If waged skills are donated, they can be exchanged for similar waged skills and this can help new businesses and community groups get off the ground.

I am grateful to have the opportunity Timebank gives me.  I didn’t think I had skills, but now I know everyone has something they can do.  If you are interested, the Rushey Green-based website is here and the national UK site can be found here.

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