When I was planning our move out of London to Hitchin, one of the things I looked forward to the most was the better sense of community. So when a friend told me about the local Time Bank scheme, I joined up before we’d even packed!
The Time Bank is a community skills exchange which operates across North Herts and recently launched in Stevenage and Buntingford too. The scheme enables members to give time to help local people, then ‘bank’ the hours they’ve given so you can exchange them for support when you might need help or want to learn a new skill. So for example, I might do an hour’s sewing for another member, then I get to bank that hour to use later, say when I need some DIY done around the house. I love the concept, as it so effectively brings the community together, helping you meet new people and share your skills. There are all kinds of people involved from all walks of life and at all ages….there are people who offer help with form-filling, crafts, gardening, IT skills, shopping and all sorts.
The Time Bank also has two very popular knitting groups, who meet every week to work on projects, share tips and just have a good chat. So, when Time Banker Carmen got in touch with an idea to get everyone involved in a big project to help promote awareness of the group, I was super excited!
Carmen’s idea was to stage a yarn bombing somewhere in Letchworth, to show how the Time Bank brings people together and benefits the local area. ‘Guerrilla knitting’ or ‘yarn bombing’ is a form of street art, whereby colourful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn are used to cover and transform trees, community sculptures and street furniture.
After speaking to the council and Heritage Foundation, we managed to get permission to cover the ‘Paradise Is’ sculpture in knitting and crochet. Carmen then rallied around, as well as lots of other Time Bankers and local knitters, together giving a whopping 300 hours to get the knitted and crocheted panels and details ready for the big day.
We were so delighted with how many people wanted to take part, with people learning to knit for the first time and also members giving up their time and sharing their other crafty skills to help sew it all together. On the morning of the ‘bombing’ hours were spent carefully attaching the panels and other decorations to the sculpture to ensure it wasn’t damaged and that it was all secure. I couldn’t believe how intricately designed it all was, with beautiful little details to represent all the elements of Time Banking and volunteering, such as the gardening project, photography and baking.
Here are a few of my favourite bits….
The Time Bank scheme, run by North Herts CVS, has been growing and growing, and the popular knitting group made up of fellow members takes place every Friday morning at the Community Coffee Bar held at the Brotherhood Hall on Gernon Road. The group is always looking to find new members to help take on new projects, and have recently raised money for Guide Dogs for the Blind by selling knitted clothing and gifts they have made. If you are interested in joining or learning how to knit just come along to the Brotherhood Hall on a Friday morning between 10:00am and 11.30am and join in the fun. It’s free to join in, and members of all ages are welcome.
The yarn bomb will remain in place until the end of the month, opposite the Broadway Cinema (which is currently showing Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s ‘The World’s End’ which was filmed in Letchworth and features the cinema as one of the pubs!) and once removed the knitted panels will be re-sewn into blankets to be donated to local charities. The art form is unique in this way, as no public property is damaged and nothing is wasted.
You can also find out more about the Time Bank on the NHCVS Blog, which I also write for!