Ending loneliness through mentoring

18 10 2013

Sobering stats about loneliness hit the headlines today; according to the Campaign to End Loneliness there are 800,000 people in England who are chronically lonely, many of them elderly.

So we would like to take this moment to shout about horsesmouth. Our mentoring community has thousands of older (and elderly) mentors sharing their experiences, on everything from how to deal with retirement, volunteering ideas, bereavement, and the secrets to sucess in business and family life.

From retirees to grandparents, volunteers to the recently widowed; all are sharing their life experience to help others and maybe learn something themselves.

Here are just a few of our older mentors on why they wanted to mentor on horsesmouth and what they get out of it.

BigPete, aged 67. ‘When I was a young sales rep, I was fortunate enough to have a couple of wise old heads off whom I could bounce all my problems and frustrations.  I think that this type of mentoring fills a gap which has been left as society has become more self-centred over the years, which is why I believe horsesmouth can offer an invaluable service.’

Graham77 is one of our older mentors, ‘This is a fantastic idea for lots of people. Some are unable to get out and about or are to shy to ask friends or relatives for help. One reason the Samaritans is successful is because people are afraid to ask their friends or partners for help as they may be told things like, ‘Thats nothing to worry about, you’ll be ok in the morning.’ This site will be ideal for them to get assistance with anonymity. I feel I have something to offer and also much more to learn.’

Mentor Bezzer is a 66yr old retired nurse and grandmother. ‘My life is full of activities with my children and my community.
I believe people get more out of life by giving and so although today I have sent out a request for help for myself, I also know that if I give I will receive.’

Mentor Merlinoz is offering a, ‘lifetime of work and relationship experience. Approaching that time in life where I’m looking back and thinking what else I could have done to help others. This helps both sides get something from mentoring…payback!

Another mentor, mike47, found us after retiring. ‘As I have recently retired, I was looking for some ways in which I might help others. I came across horsemouth whilst searching voluntary oportunities on the Internet. The concept of capturing and sharing a wealth of life-long experiences struck me as a brilliant idea and I’m really excited about getting involved. As well as hopefully being able to give useful advice, with any luck someone might help me with ideas on things to do in retirement.’

So if you’re an older person feeling a bit lonely or isolated, sign up today to share with us on horsesmouth. Someone needs your experience, and maybe you could learn a little something too. It could be the start of many fulfilling mentor relationship.

And if you know an older person who might be feeling isolated or suffering from loneliness, please share this post or point them towards horsemouth. There is so much to give and learn.

Mentoring for ex-prisoners – will it work?

9 05 2013

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling today announced plans to increase support for people being released from prison in England and Wales.

The plans include encouraging ‘mentoring support’ from former prisoners who have ‘turned their lives around, to help those who are yet to do so.’

Here at horsesmouth we have mentors who have experienced all sides of the system – from ex-offenders who have benefited from mentoring and become mentors themselves, to mentors who work within the prison service and voluntary sector.

One mentor works within the prison service and has set up a local charity providing mentors for prisoners coming to the end of their sentence. Of mentoring ex-prisoners he says,

‘I have been running Lighthouse Mentors now for 4 years. We are really getting some positive results. Some mentees do return to custody for various reasons but we found that they are mostly positive, and when they go back out they remember all the advice and guidance they have received and go on to serve their communities fully.

‘We are currently undergoing accreditation and evaluation and these are very busy times indeed. We have mentors waiting to join us. We have had some very good success stories and even one mentor who started with us as a mentee when he was in prison, so he has come full circle with us.

‘We have a very good crop of mentors and they are doing some marvellous work. A lot of my mentors coming through are ex-offenders and that is fantastic as they have experienced some of the situations the mentees find themselves in.’

One mentor who is an ex-prisoner believes that his time in prison puts him in the perfect position to ‘offer life changing advice to ex-prisoners, parolees, etc., who are struggling to find their feet after release.’

He says, ‘Being an ex-prisoner, I know what it’s like on the inside, being isolated, losing family and friends. I also know what its like to return to society, which in a lot of cases has changed dramatically. Having someone independent and anonymous to speak to helped me, and now, I want my turn to do this for others. Knowing how hard life can be, how cruel society can be, how isolated you can feel, puts me in a position to offer valued advice, or just an ear to listen.’

So, can mentoring help to rehabilitate ex-prisoners and prevent re-offending? From those who are already doing it, the answer seems to be ‘yes’.

Horsesmouth is a free-of-charge, fully moderated, online mentoring community. To become a mentor, search for a mentor, or find out more about what we do, go here.

Horsesmouth need a Community Manager

31 08 2012
Horsesmouth are recruiting for a Community Manager! With a huge online community of nearly 50,000, an active social media presence, and constant conversations on the site, we need a dynamic and motivated person to help connect our members, spread our message, and ensure the site runs smoothly.
Headline duties will include:
  • Actively and proactively managing the community, liaising with the moderators
  • Managing and amplifying the horsesmouth presence on social media channels in line with partnership, pr and topical agenda
  • Creating, writing and promoting a weekly blog/editorial
  • Managing  and reporting on client partnerships on the site, with some client liaison

The role itself will be part-time, at a minimum of 3 days per week, which can be spent partly in our office in Farringdon, London, and partly working remotely.

There is huge scope within the role to develop both what we do and your own skills and experience. You will be working with our founder, and will need initiative and enthusiasm to really make the role your own.

Sound interesting? Email us at jobs@horsesmouth.co.uk – we’d love to see your CV or LinkedIn, and a few writing samples.

Talking about mental health

19 07 2012

Everybody’s talking about mental health at the moment. One in four people will experience mental health problems at some point in their life, yet there is still a strong stigma attached to admitting to having mental health issues. 

Last month, in a bid to break the cycle of silence surrounding mental health, four MPs stood up in the House of Commons to discuss their own experiences to further the debate on tackling prejudices against those with mental health problems. And next week sees the start of a Channel 4 season of programmes called 4 Goes Mad, which aims to challenge discrimination and the mental health stigma.

The campaign Time To Change – which collaborated with Channel 4 on 4 Goes Mad – is led by leading mental health charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness and aims to raise awareness by getting as many people talking about their  mental health experiences as possible. (You can sign up to the Time to Change pledge to talk campaign here.)

On horsesmouth our environment is anonymous, supportive and safe, which allows people to open up and disclose honestly. Depression and mental illness are therefore huge topics: just searching under ‘depression’ brings up 2,000 relevant mentor profiles.

We see people flourish after finding the support they need, often then feeling encouraged to go on and help others. In March this year, one mentee came to horsesmouth in search of support, writing, ‘I’ve been struggling with mental illness pretty much my whole life. I’ve been misdiagnosed for years. I’m looking for a mentor that I can talk to and can understand where I am coming from.

She formed several close mentoring relationships and last month signed up to be a mentor herself, sending supportive messages to other users and saying, ‘Horsesmouth has helped me tremendously. It’s nice to know you have people that you can talk to.’

Every week we have new mentors who are dealing with mental illness sign up, knowing how vital it is to offer others the opportunity to talk. For instance, h0th3ad, who signed up last month and wants to mentor on depression:

I have been through it and I know how important it is to have someone listen to you and support you. It was the worst years of my life but it’s at the back of my mind if not away from it. I believe everyone suffers from it some time in life but some suffer more than others. I am proof you can change things around with the right support, I want to be that support and the reason to change a person’s life positively.’

Other long-established mentors who have been through the mill of mental illness know how the stigma attached to mental illness can increase the sense of isolation. Mentor jennzenith, 32, says:

Although the stigma of poor mental health is supposedly decreasing, I am aware that those who find themselves living with depression, or caring for someone with depression, can often feel alone. I have experienced both sides of this illness and would love the opportunity to use my experiences to help others.’

Through the simple act of conversation and sharing, the weight of mental health and depression is partly lifted. Follow the conversations on Twitter under #4goesmad #mentalhealthdebate #timetochange. If you need advice and support on dealing with mental health issues, search for a mentor here.

Business mentoring – mentorsme.co.uk

13 07 2012

horsesmouth are thrilled to be partnering with mentorsme.co.uk, a collaborative online resource for UK small and medium-sized enterprises seeking mentoring.

The aim of mentorsme.co.uk is to provide those seeking business mentoring easy access to all existing mentoring organisations and networks under one umbrella. The site is free to use and offers businesses access to a list of quality-assured business mentoring organisations across Britain. The goal is to help businesses find a mentoring organisation to suit their needs in a fast and easy way.

For the huge stable (sorry!) of horsesmouth business and enterprise mentors, it’s a great fit.

The site also allows business professionals to get involved, and offer their services as a business mentor via the mentoring organisations listed. Aspiring mentors may want to work in a particular area of Britain and have a particular area of expertise to offer. The site has a directory which allows them to locate mentoring organisations that are the closest match to their profile.

mentorsme.co.uk also aims to raise awareness about the benefits of business mentoring through its library of online resources, which includes articles about mentoring and case studies of successful business mentoring relationships.

Have a look at this mentorsme.co.uk clip showing how having access to an experienced mentor in the early days of a business can be the key to success for a new company.

Find a mentor on mentorsme.co.uk here.

Sign up to become a mentorsme.co.uk mentor here.

Read the rest of this entry »

Meet the Mentors – Carers Week.

19 06 2012

It’s Carers Week. We’ve written plenty about carers and caring on this blog before: caring can be hugely rewarding but also extremely challenging, with carers often making huge sacrifices to care for family members or loved ones. Carers Week aims to bring attention to the huge numbers of those caring long hours, struggling to balance their duties with work, unpaid, and the huge numbers of young people who are providing hours of care per week.

Among our mentors we have carers young and old who want to share their experience and advice to help others in the same situation. If you’re seeking support as you provide care to a loved one, maybe a mentor could help?

Clara43, 44, from South Yorkshire
‘I was a young carer for my mum who has mental health problems and after training I set up and managed a young carers project providing emotional and practical support, information, advice and advocacy as well as therapeutic work. Many people when feeling alone and isolated turn to the internet for help. I hope to be a port of call for this.’

Shelley9912, 24, graduate in Forensic Psychology
‘My mother is mentally ill and she requires full-time care. Separate from the fact that my mother is mentally ill I know very well how it is to be a carer. I have sacrificed a lot to look after and help my mother and I know that sometimes those sacrifices that we make can go unnoticed. I know that being a carer can be very daunting at first.’

nicemum, 49, an adopter and birthmum
‘I’ve been a young carer who supported a parent suffering from depression and bereavement and two younger siblings. This is a mighty burden for any child to bear and it is a deeply formative experience, I am happy to talk to any carers out there.’

CateH, 40, a self employed childminder
‘I was a carer for my mum for many years, she had leukemia and dementia so I know how hard it is to be a carer and the need for support. I was my mum’s full time carer having given up work, so I lost a whole way of life. I miss her terribly and know the pain, physical and emotional, that comes with grief.’

carriesyrup, 29, a carer and reiki therapist
‘I look after my mum who has mental health problems, so I am a carer to my mum and also work as a carer for the elderly.  I love what I do and I love helping others. It has made me a better person in myself and now I am at a stage where I can help others through similar situations.’

To contact any of these mentors, simply click ‘contact mentor’ on their profile. If you are new to horsesmouth, you will need to register first – it’s free and easy! To search for other mentors to contact, or to sign up as a mentor yourself, go to our homepage. Good luck and happy mentoring!

Mentor Mondays.

11 06 2012

It’s that time of year! Lots of our new mentors signing up are young mentors, offering advice on school and university life; dealing with exams pressure and stress, choosing courses and applying for university, and dealing with the new way of life that going to university brings, away from home and family.

Here are just a few of the new mentors who have signed up in the last month, just a fraction of the horsesmouth mentors offering advice on this topic, but why not snag a new mentor before someone else does? Let’s meet them.

rhaugh1, 20, about to finish second year studying Psychology at Northumbria University in Newcastle. ‘As someone who has recently encountered the university application process, I am knowledgeable on the procedures involved, what makes a good university application, how to choose a university and how to prepare for course interviews. As a member of my university swim and triathlon team, Psychology Society secretary and an active volunteer inside my university, I am informed of the different opportunities available to students. I am able to provide advice on making the most of university, coping with university work and peer pressures and general welfare.’

DaisyF, 21, just finished third year of a health degree and about to go on to a mental health nursing degree in September. ‘When I originally applied for university, I didn’t reach the grades I needed for the course I had applied for. However, my first choice of university offered me the opportunity to study a different degree with the possibility of transferring to my original course dependent on my grades. Although at first I wasn’t sure, during my first year I realised that my original degree wasn’t really for me and this led me to my future degree. I am so happy that the alternative degree was given as another option and it all happened the way that it did.  This helped me to learn that when something doesn’t go your way, it’s not the end of the world and things will have someway of working out as long as you are willing to try something different and work hard!’

LawUndergrad, a 20 year old Law undergraduate, living in rural Lancashire. ‘I am a young person who has been through school, college and I am now in university. I have experience in deciding a career path, navigating friendships, handling a workload and moving in with housemates for the first time. I would like to mentor on this subject because these issues can seem all encompassing at the time and an objective viewer can often help one realise the issue is not quite as daunting as it initially seems.’

Ads, 27, living in Somerset. ‘I have been through university however I am not naturally good at my studies and I have always had to work hard. I’ve been a D student who turned themselves in to a B student and have overcome many obstacles to do this. I have learnt it is about working on your strengths and taking a logical approach, breaking things down, etc. I have always studied economics and have a general interest in finance. When I graduated from university I was in debt but have since turned this around. I can offer practical advice on this subject.’

To contact any of these mentors, simply click ‘contact mentor’ on their profile. If you are new to horsesmouth, you will need to register first – it’s free and easy! To search for other mentors to contact, or to sign up as a mentor yourself, go to our homepage. Good luck and happy mentoring!