Lyttelton Time Bank a builder and mobiliser of resources
UC research finds Lyttelton Time Bank a builder and mobiliser of resources
September 12, 2013
A University of Canterbury (UC) researcher has found the Lyttelton Time Bank was a builder and mobiliser of resources during the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.
Marketing lecturer Dr Lucie Ozanne says her research found a surprising partner in emergency management, a local community time bank.
``We saw a strong role for
the Lyttelton Time Bank in promoting community resilience
``A time bank is a grassroots exchange system in which members trade services non-reciprocally. This exchange model assumes that everyone has tradable skills and all labour is equal in value. One hour of any labour earns a member one time bank hour, which can be used to purchase another member’s services.
``Before the earthquakes struck, the Lyttelton Time Bank had organised more than 10 percent of the town’s residents and 18 local organisations. It was documenting, developing and mobilising skills to solve individual and collective problems.
``Across the 30,000 trades before the earthquakes, a stronger social network was built through these exchanges. During the quakes, the Lyttelton Time Bank had the best local communication system through which vital information flowed to members and local residents. Using a range of communication modes, timely information was provided to residents on practical and safety precautions, as well as the availability of clean water, food, services, and other resources.’’
Dr Ozanne says as a partner working with emergency workers and first responders, the Lyttelton Time Bank had an intimate knowledge of the community. It acted as a hub organisation activating its extensive social network through which valuable resources could flow.
When at-risk families and groups were identified, time bank members offered home visits, emotional support, food, accommodation and repairs. Problems were solved in the immediate aftermath of the earthquakes, such as dismantling chimneys that could be safely removed, freeing emergency workers to assist on projects that needed greater skill.
Time bank members visited elderly residents providing emotional labour, which freed medical personnel to deal with more acute medical problems.
``After emergency personnel left the community, the time bank provided on-going support in the months and years that followed. Individual assistance continued to be provided to residents, such as helping with home repairs or finding rental accommodation when houses were deem uninhabitable.
``The time bank was particularly adept both working with other community organisations to solve larger community problems and harnessing human labour and resources to complete these initiatives.
``Research suggests that community resilience improves when communities can quickly mobilise a range of resources. This is a real strength of the time bank model since resources are identified, developed and activated through hundreds and thousands of trades.
``My research suggested the time bank model can be expanded to assist in emergency planning and management. Investments in local time banks are an economical method of building a trusted and practiced local communication infrastructure, which is critical during a crisis. Moreover, time banks currently identify and develop communities’ assets,’’ Dr Ozanne says.