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Nanjing values volunteers’ time with “care bank” program

By Yunxin Bao (People's Daily Online)    16:20, December 18, 2017

Nanjing, capital of China’s eastern Jiangsu province, has initiated a volunteer “support bank” program to relieve the burden of the city’s growing senior population. The volunteer bank will credit the hours spent for taking care of the elderly and allow people to turn that time to cash when needed.

Over 5,000 citizens have registered for the program since its pilot in 2005. With the growing number of elderly in many communities, there is a shortage of necessary caring assistance. Therefore, the care bank encourages people to volunteer their time while young with the promise to turn that time to cash in their pension.

“Two thirds of the volunteers now are relatively young,” said Wu Weihua, head of Dayanggou community. “Volunteers can apply for 13 kinds of services in the bank, including doing laundry, reading newspapers, and purchasing groceries.”

Nanjing has 1.3 million senior citizens, accounting for 20% of the permanent local population, and 195,000 are partially or fully disabled. China activated the policy that requires local communities to offer all elderly necessary assistance in 2013. Since then, the number of elderly poor has increased from 10,000 to 1.3 million in 2017.

The bank also reduces the local budget for labor. According to Wei Yingbao, project manager in Yaohua community, pension work used to rely on five social workers with 2-million-yuan-a-year salaries, substituted by two volunteers and funding jointly provided by the government, social organizations, and companies.

“I spend an hour a day serving food and cleaning the floor at a nursing home in the community,” said 66-year-old Mrs. Li. “I’ve been volunteering for months. It’s a great opportunity for seniors to help each other.”

Among the first volunteer group from August 2014, Mrs. Li has saved 835 hours volunteer time in the Yaohua Street bank, which has attracted 1,484 clients and 47,229 volunteering hours in total, providing 146,615 services for 4,262 seniors.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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