Fair Shares was the first time bank in England. It was established in Gloucester in 1998. It operates today as a group of local time banks. It has been active now for almost 20 years and has been one of the most innovative time banks throughout its history. It holds a flagship role in national timebanking. However, the interesting aspect of Fair Shares is how its strategy has changed over this period.
The establishment of Fair Shares was influenced by US experience of timbanking at a time when US timebanking was on a strong growth trajectory. This owed largely to the coming together of a set of actors around timebanking in the US, including Edgar Cahn, Richard Rockefeller, and Mark McDonough. A new momentum had been given to timebanking by Richard Rockefeller, who established TB USA and funded a set of time banks in Maine and New England focused around the Portland time bank. Richard Rockefeller established a series of annual timebanking conferences, which attracted international participants.
The early development of Fair Shares was in close collaboration with these developments in the US. These were strongly influenced by the ambition to spread timebanking by creating new time banks and demonstrating ways they could be used to meet community needs and help achieve policy goals. One such need was to reduce the burgeoning costs of healthcare and nursing home care for the elderly.
In line with this ambition, Fair Shares co-founded TBUK together with the New Economics Foundation (NEF). Together with US timebanking counterparts Fair Shares promoted the role of timebanking in preventative and community-based health care and welfare delivery. Fair Shares also worked with NEF to establish the legal status of timebanking. The national government of the day (New Labour, Prime Minister Tony Blair) was seeking ways to implement its ‘Third Way’ and was favourably disposed toward timebanking, owing to the close fit with its own policy framework.
However, on the basis of actual experience across several initiatives interfacing with mainstream societal systems, such as health care and criminal justice, it was found that such systems are resistant to reform and their top-down, bureaucratic nature is inconsistent with the Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) approach to community building on which Fair Shares and its successes are based. The strategy of Fair Shares over the last decade has therefore been to seek ways to achieve financial independence in order to provide for sustainability and integrity to its core mission of community building. It has achieved this through developing social entrepreneurship alongside timebanking.
This CTP concerns the establishment of the Fair Shares Time Bank in Stonehouse, Gloucester, the first UK Time Bank. It describes the crucial initial funding and cooperation that made it possible to establish Fair Shares and support its early operation.
The CTP concerns the definition, classification and legal status of timebanking. A ‘breakthrough’ was made in 2000 when an activity category, ‘unpaid work’, was created specifically and uniquely for time exchange, which is neither volunteering nor paid work.
The CTP concerns the Time for Childcare project, which (in spite of gainsayers) was a successful project that built on earlier successes and confirmed the view of Fair Shares leaders that they were on the right path.
This CTP concerns the Fair Shares proactive attempt to implement timebanking and its mechanisms into the national healthcare service system.
This CTP concerns the project, “Timebanking in Prison”, which involved a successful partnership from 2004 to 2013 between Fair Shares and the local prison. Prison governors wanted to extend the project to other prisons but this met warder resistance.
This CTP concerns the Gloucester Motorway Services (GMS). Fair Shares (FS) was one of the ‘founding partners’ of the Gloucestershire Gateway Trust, (GGT). GGT receives a share of the proceeds from the business to fund community development work in six target neighbourhoods. As one of the recipients of the first tranche of funding FS now has a stream of income for 5 years, more autonomy and the opportunities to collaborate with the founding partners and others in the regeneration of communities.
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