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Time bank brings community together
01.09.2018

    Time bank brings community together

     

    A resident uses her volunteer credits on the app to get a bottle of oil.

    A common headache for grassroots officials is problems encountered in reviving community spirit and bringing residents — especially the young — closer together. Gonghexin Road Community offers a solution.

    It has introduced the concept of “time bank,” where residents can earn credits by volunteering in the community. “Time credits” can be exchanged for a number of things, from yearly laundry cards to cinema tickets, restaurant coupons and exercise classes.

    Residents can earn and use credits on a tailor-made app — Gonghexin e home — the city’s first app of its kind that blend online and offline community.

    The Luoshan neighborhood was first to try the app about a year ago. This year, the project will be expanded to 25 neighborhoods, said Zhu Youyuan, deputy director of the community’s office.

    “Previously, only senior citizens took part in volunteering and other community works,” said Huang Bei, Party chief of Luoshan. “Young people didn’t have much time and they were not interested in our activities. Also, we used to only post information on boards rather than via social media.” The neighborhood interviewed young residents and listened to what they wanted.

    “Now we have 387 registered users, more than half of whom are young people. They are exactly the group I target,” Huang said.

    Han Liang and his wife are among the active users. “His wife found the community was providing free karate classes to children from the app, and signed up for their son, aged 8,” Huang said. “We didn’t charge a penny and we let parents themselves to decide on the appropriate class time based on their schedule. It was really attractive to them.”

    Gradually, the woman befriended social workers. During chats, she said Han was good at pen writing and recommended him to be a volunteer teacher. “My son felt lonely at home and didn’t want to learn pen writing with me because he thought it was boring. But now, he likes to take classes with other children in the community,” Han said. “Besides, I love to do something for the community. Also, I can earn credits to exchange for things what I want.” So far, he has held more than 10 classes, Huang said.

    Another popular function on the app is “sharing parking spaces,” which substantially make up for the community’s parking shortage.