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!


Mentoring, the horsesmouth way.

13 04 2012

horsesmouth is where social networking meets social enterprise; where personal contributions create public value; where human capital is unlocked to create social capital. It’s social networking with a purpose. We call it the wisdomocracy. Because it’s free, it’s accessible to all (as long as you’re over 16!) and because it’s anonymous, you can share from the heart. 

What can mentoring do?
Adam attends Alcoholics Anonymous, Bilal runs a business, Chris studies chemistry at college and Diane lives with diabetes. What do they all have in common? They could all share the lessons they’ve learned from experience with fellow horsesmouth members facing the same situation.  If you have successfully faced an important choice, challenge or change in your life – and who hasn’t – you could help people by signing up to be a mentor. And if you’re going through something, getting over something or simply want to get on with something – there’s probably someone out there who’s been in your shoes. Everyone has something to give and gain. That’s why we like to call it the wisdomocracy.

What’s in it for you?
Drawing on your life experiences to help others is rewarding and allows you to breathe the heady air of the moral high ground. But think about it – it’s just like eBay – all that stuff you’ve got locked up in your head that you rarely think about and that no-one really benefits from can now be unlocked and shared with people who will really value it. In short – this is an easy and fun way to give something back. Or if you’re a younger mentor it can be very helpful in building the kind of skills that employers love – listening, problem-solving and learning from experience.  And if you’re competitive – or think you have an aptitude for it – our MFactor rating system allows you to build your reputation as a mentor – which in some way, some day you may well be able to take to the bank.

What’s in it for our community?
Communicating with someone who has been in your shoes can be really helpful, no matter who or where you are. While it may not substitute for professional advice, family or friends, sometimes it’s exactly what you need. But often social, geographic, physical and emotional barriers can make it hard to find that someone. horsesmouth breaks down those barriers to access and allows people all over the UK to come together anonymously and confidentially, to share their life experiences.

As one of our mentors Tom38 says, ‘I remember coming home from work late one night a couple of years ago. I bumped into my neighbour who was also late home. I’d not really spoken to him before, but at 10pm in the dark we stood and talked for half an hour about how things were going, and about life. It turned out we’d both recently lost a parent. He said to me, ‘Everyone has their crosses to bear, it’s how you carry them that counts’. That phrase really stuck with me and it came from someone I didn’t really know.’

‘Life can be tough and it’s not always easy to get advice from someone you know already. I’d like to help in any way I can. I’m 38, old enough to have some good experience of life, but also young enough to feel connected to younger people looking for some advice. I’m a good listener and want to help anyone I can move in the right direction. Mentoring is a great thing and this site is a great idea.’

So what are you waiting for? Sign up to start mentoring today! Or, to benefit from the wisdom of someone who’s going through the same thing as you, why not search for a mentor, or post a request for a mentor? It could be the first step towards changing your life.

International Women’s Day.

8 03 2012

To celebrate International Women’s Day it seems only right to shout about some of our exceptional female mentors, of all ages and backgrounds, with every range of experience you could imagine – and then some.

There are women with unusual stories such as Chameleon, who completely changed her life and relocated to live in a hut in a forest in Norway; or Wings, a mother and self-professed housewife who learned how to pilot at the age of 40. There are women who have gathered a lifetime of experience and qualifications and simply want to share their wisdom. Then there are those who have had successful TV careers as well as getting their books published, or started successful businesses. And those who have added motherhood into the mix, too.

We have young female mentors offering advice on university life, love and relationships and the struggles that young women face such as eating disorders, school life and bullying.

Yet more inspirational mentors: those who have raised to the top of their game in business, who have managed to balance children, work and life, or simply women who found their path in life through trial and error and want to help others along the way. Then there are the visionaries who do what makes them tick instead of living inside the box.

One of the great advantages of horsesmouth is that it is anonymous. This means that subjects that might be difficult to express in real life are much easier to raise, honestly and without fear of judgement. We have mentors who advise on miscarriage, domestic violence, rape, and post-natal depression. And because we are fully moderated, you can be confident that these sensitive conversations are talking place securely.

All in all, as you would expect, the mix of our female mentors is as rich and varied as you would imagine, with the bonus of anonymity to enable freedom of expression. And of course, it’s totally free. So, if you haven’t already signed up, what are you waiting for — get involved today!

Ask an apprentice!

9 02 2012

As National Apprentices Week progresses, it has been great to see apprenticeships and the opportunities they offer being brought into full focus. As young people make decisions about their future – whether to continue in full-time education, or enter the employment market – it is crucial to understand the full range of options available.

Apprenticeships offer a practical, paid way to gain experience in almost every industry, whilst continuing learning – either on the job, via training, or studying concurrently.  As Prime Minister David Cameron pointed out in a blog on Huffington Post this week, ‘For far too long academic subjects have been elevated above practical learning and these rigorous, well-respected qualifications – equivalent to a traditional degree – are going to help end that imbalance.’

What is crucially important, whilst making big decisions about whether an apprenticeship is the right option, is to be well supported and informed about which path to go down. Peer mentoring offers an excellent first-hand, informal channel for potential apprentices to ask someone who has already been there, done that, ‘Is this right for me?’

Our mentors are current and former apprentices, volunteering their time to offer advice to those considering apprenticeships, often because they received excellent advice themselves and want to give something back. They are on-hand to offer advice and support to you if you are wondering how apprenticeships work, whether they are the right option for you, if you can study while you work, and other practical tips such as how to apply.

Free, anonymous, and easy to contact online, in partnership with the National Apprenticeships Service, they will give you the insider low-down on whether an apprenticeship is right for you.

With exciting opportunities being announced every day, from Barclays to the BBC, and new funding for businesses to take on apprentices, there’s no better time to ask an apprentice!  Browse our apprenticeship mentor profiles and get on track to your apprenticeship today.

Mentoring: improving your adoption experience with a mentor.

22 12 2011

‘How do you prepare a seven year old for the biggest shock of her life? Short answer. You don’t.’ This is how a young horsesmouth mentor starts the frank and moving story of how she found out she was adopted, sharing her story in the hope it will help others in the same situation.

There was good news for prospective adoptive parents and children alike today, as the government pledged to overhaul the adoption assessment process in the UK. Government statistics show that children wait an average of two years and seven months before being adopted, with prospective parents often being turned away because they may not be the right ethnic match, are overweight or may have smoked.

If you are going through, or have been through, the adoption process, either as a parent of a child, you will know first-hand what an emotionally challenging experience the process can be. Mentoring could be a great way for you to easy the journey and share your experience. On horsesmouth we have mentors both young and old, who are going through or have been through the same process, sharing their wisdom and experience.

Take horsesmouth mentor Nicemum: she is an adopter who has worked at a local authority post adoption support service, offering advice prior to and after adoption. Or a male perspective, one of our mentors who has three adopted sisters, and has been through the whole process of adoption twice.

Of course, every case is different, but contacting a mentor today to talk over what you’e going through could offer a fresh perspective. And, sharing your experience could help others. Search for a mentor or publish your story today.

Young people – mindset and mentoring

6 12 2011

Research into the English riots undertaken by The Guardian and the London School of Economics has shed a grim light on the outlook of young people in the UK.

Published yesterday, the study – Reading the Riots – involved interviews with 270 rioters. Around three-quarters of interviewees were aged 24 or under, in line with the profile of those who appeared in court, with just over a quarter of prosecutions involving juveniles under 18.

The study revealed attitudes of those involved in the rioting. Among the findings:

  • 59% of the rioters interviewed in the study who were of working age and not in education were unemployed.
  • Only 51% of rioters said they felt ‘part of British society’ – compared with 92% of the wider population.
  • 85% said poverty was an ‘important’ or ‘very important’ factor in causing the riots.
  • Those questioned as part of the study were pessimistic about the future, with 29% disagreeing with the statement ‘life is full of opportunities’.

For many of those not in education, unemployment was the norm among the rioters who were interviewed. They repeatedly complained about their struggle to find work – with some even saying they sought out and looted shops that had rejected their job applications. A 22 year old from south London interviewed as part of the study says:

‘If I had a job … I honestly wouldn’t have stolen nothing … When people have things in their life, yeah, that they feel they’re, or when people feel like they’re worth something, like you could work in Tesco but you could feel like, Tesco could make you feel like you’re a valuable worker, and you could be on £5 an hour. But it doesn’t matter, because at the end of the day, yeah, because you feel you’re worth something you would never jeopardise that.’

Along with last week’s announcement that youth unemployment is at a record high, with 1 million unemployed 16 to 24-year-olds in the UK, it is clear that now more than ever, young people are desperately in need of guidance, advice and mentoring. If this is something you can you offer, anonymously and with the convenience of online, sign up for a horsesmouth account and begin mentoring today.

If you are a young person seeking advice, you can browse topics such as Life, Work and Learning, search the site using key words, and connect with mentors of all ages – you can search specifically for young mentors if that is what you prefer – including mentors from our partner the National Apprenticeship Service.

Finally, if you are an individual or a business that would like to find out what young people really think, our Think Big partnership with O2  aims to bridge the generation gap, allowing adults to ask young mentors questions online. Through an innovative new online question and answer service, our team of aspiring young mentors will answer questions, giving a valuable insight into the mindset of young people.