Lesson 73 – Swiss Time Bank (Level 2 +)

St Gallen is the first Swiss city to introduce a novel banking scheme in which retired care volunteers “deposit” hours worked looking after elderly people.

In return they can use any time saved up for their own care provision later in life. The St Gallen government started this project to lower social service costs and to encourage people to help each other.

Switzerland is coping with a steadily ageing population. Whereas only one in ten residents were over 65 in 1960, five decades later the ratio is one in six. Currently, four actively employed people fund the state pension of one retired person.  Forty years from now this share will fall to two employees.

Under this scheme, retired people in good health who have time on their hands can provide care and support for elderly locals in need. Every hour worked is recorded as a “deposit” on a special personal account, which can later be used to pay for care workers’ time when the volunteer in turn needs assistance.

The organisers hope that 300 people will sign up to provide 2-3 hours of care per week over a 42 week period. The maximum amount that can be “deposited” by each volunteer is 750 hours.

This pilot project is helping to bring the village mentality to the city and a return to the days when people took more care of those around them, whether family friends or neighbours.

A) Vocabulary
Please use the words below in sentences of your own. The sentences should show that you understand the meaning of the word.

Novel – new and original
Volunteer – to work for an organization without being paid
Decade – ten years
Assistance – help
Pilot project – an activity planned as a test or a trial
Mentality – way of thinking

B) Discussion Points-

  • What do you think of this project?
  • Where did it start?
  • What are the advantages of such a project?
  • Do you think there are any disadvantages of such a project?
  • If so, what are they?
  • What is meant by “village mentality?”
  • Where do you think people are more helpful? In big cities or in villages?
  • Where would you rather live? Why?
  • In what ways do you think the elderly need help?
  • Do you help your neighbours? If yes, in what way?
  • Do you think a scheme such as the Swiss Time Bank would work in India?
  • There are other countries around the world that have launched this scheme. Look up the Internet and tell us which countries have started or are planning to start a “time bank?”

A decade is ten years.
A dozen is _____ years.
A century is _____ years.
A millennium is ____ years.
A half century is ____ years.