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FAQs answered on this page:

    • What is the TCHI?
    • How did it come about?
    • What are TCHI notes?
    • What is the TCHI directory?
    • Why is the TCHI worth an hour?
    • Surely some people have skills that are more valuable than others?
    • What kinds of skills or services are traded?
    • Why is the TCHI worth an hour?
    • What makes the TCHI different to a time bank?

What is the TCHI?

The TCHI is a local currency scheme designed to aid community volunteering and skills exchange between members. The scheme is centred on the ancient city of Chichester in West Sussex, England, and provides an alternative currency for people in the Chichester district.

How did it come about?

The TCHI is the brainchild of Transition Chichester Economics Group. The transition movement recognises the vulnerability of communities that have become dependent on external sources of finance, commodities and energy. In an era of climate change, peak oil and disillusion with centralised government the Transition movement aims to re-empower local solutions – to energy, food production and employment.  The challenge for the Economics Group was to design a local currency that in time could increase the resilience and independence of the local community. The idea being that if people learn to share and value each others skills, they will have a lasting resource in the event of future financial or energy shocks.

What are TCHI notes?

TCHI notes are a paper currency with a nominal value of one hour. They can be exchanged for one hour’s service from another member. They are beautifully designed with images from Chichester and the local countryside, and feature a portrait and quotation of local hero William Blake.

What is the TCHI directory?

Members of the TCHI scheme receive a regular directory listing the services that members are offering. These services are listed in the form of ‘classified adverts’ under categories such as Gardening, DIY, Pets, Business services, Computer support, Wanted etc. Members contact each other through the directory to request or offer their skills and time.

Why is the TCHI worth an hour?

The TCHI recognises that at the fundamental level of community we are all of equal value. An hour of my time is as valuable as an hour of yours.  In using the TCHI members are saying ‘these are the services I am willing to give an hour of my time for’.

Surely some people have skills that are more valuable than others?

A professional architect may feel that his skills should be valued more highly than, say, someone who offers to walk his dog. After all he studied for many years to become an architect didn’t he? Why should his hour only be worth one TCHI?

The answer is simple. He needn’t offer his architectural services for TCHIs. As we have said – the TCHI is not for professional services – they should be paid for in normal money. But if the architect can think differently, he may realise that he has other skills and interests. He may enjoy repairing bicycles, helping with digging a community pond, or teaching someone how to wild-forrage for mushrooms.

The TCHI is designed to help us share and value the other skills we have – skills that bring us together as a community.

What kinds of skills or services are traded?

Imagine of you had the most useful and versatile friendly neighbour: Someone to pop round and feed the dog when you go on holiday; Someone to give you a lift into town on Wednesdays; or Someone to teach you how to use the new computer you have just bought. The TCHI community allows such neighborliness to be drawn from a much larger pool of skills and people. Take a look at a recent directory…

Why is the TCHI worth an hour?

The TCHI is not a substitute for cash transactions. It is not used to purchase professional services, but to enhance and increase voluntary work, good neighbourliness and social cohesion.

What makes the TCHI different to a time bank?

Many time-banks exist around the UK and beyond. They work on a debit and credit system and need to be tracked through a computer programme which acts as the bank. The difference with the TCHI is that there is no bank. The TCHI is a fiat currency – a freely circulating note. This gives it an independence from central control which we believe is desirable in a complementary currency. Also, there is something rather special in handling an actual paper note, especially one as attractive as the TCHI. Finally, because members can spend all of their TCHIs, they have to offer their services to earn some back. In some time banks people can become free-loaders, simply going further and further into debt, buying services but never providing any. This devalues the currency. As TCHI members cannot purchase more TCHIs, they have to earn them. In this way the  TCHI holds its value.