A 43-year old mum and former care worker, Michelle Carroll, has shared her story about improving health and wellbeing and reducing social isolation to see what impact can be had from local, community schemes.
Salford Time Bank brings local people and community groups in Pendleton together to share and swap skills and make time for each other. No money changes hands; the only cost is people’s time.
Michelle shares her story:
“I’d see Salford Time Bank on my way back from the GP and despite the friendly faces, I’d shied away from talking to them. One day, figuring I had nothing to lose, I said ‘go on; you can have me’. That was over a year ago and I’ve never once looked back.
My relationship had broken down and the demands of caring for my son with Down’s Syndrome meant I was unable to carry on working. I’d lost my sense of purpose and focus. I had no friends and felt very alone.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the time bank has been a lifesaver. It’s changed me. I’m like my old self. The time bank has benefitted my children too, who see a happy mum, not someone who feels sad and anxious all the time.
Through the time bank, I’ve met new people; found out who my neighbours are and made friends. I take part in the weekly cooking club and I’ve learnt some really tasty new dishes. Everyone can take a recipe card home and my children love it when I make something new. I’ve given my time to run errands, go to hospital appointments with others and babysit.
The time bank works because it’s local and no one judges. My confidence is higher than ever and I feel happy. I want others to get involved, so I deliver leaflets and knock on doors. I couldn’t imagine doing this a year ago. I’ve built up time credits from this and exchanged them for vouchers at the local gym.
I’m fitter than ever and I can now swim. One of my friends from the time bank taught me. I could just about tread water before, now I’ve got a life skill and you can’t get me out of the pool. It’s something fun we do together and just amazing to think how far I’ve come.
I don’t visit the GP as much anymore. A doctor wasn’t what I needed. I needed friends and not to feel lonely; I just didn’t know where to start or where to go. I go to the time bank weekly coffee morning too and it’s here where we find out who needs a bit of support or help with something that week. If we can do it and our skills match, we sign up. There’s a Facebook group too and we’ve taught some of the older residents how to use a computer and they’re now online too.
I hope the time bank grows and attracts more people to it. I’d recommend it to anyone. Your health gets better; you don’t feel alone; you feel part of a community and your confidence and self-esteem improves.”