28.Jun.2006

TimeBank refugee mentoring scheme extended to five new cities

A unique refugee mentoring scheme developed by national volunteering charity TimeBank will be introduced in five new cities this autumn.

Time Together currently operates in 19 UK cities, including Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester, Sheffield and Southampton. The scheme has proved so successful since its launch in 2002 that funding has been granted from the Home Office Invest to Save Budget to support a final five projects. They are: Centre for Equality and Diversity, Dudley; Oldham District Citizens Advice Bureau; Ipswich and Norwich Refugee Council; North of England Refugee Service, Sunderland; and Merseyside Refugee Support Network.

John Knights, Time Together Project Manager, says: “Since Time Together began in 2002, over 1000 refugees have been recruited and matched with volunteer mentors, and more than 3000 people have registered their interest in volunteering on the scheme. There are a lot of negative stories about refugees focusing on statistics, but behind those figures are real people. The new projects will allow us to support more refugees when they arrive in the UK and to continue challenging misconceptions in the communities where they live.”

Time Together aims to help refugees settle into British society and to create ambassadors for refugees in UK communities. Mentors (UK citizens) spend five hours a month for one year supporting, guiding and encouraging their mentees as they seek to achieve their goals – in integration, education and employment. This involves anything from helping their mentees to write a CV, to explaining how the internet or job market works, or even going to a museum, gallery or football match.

“The majority of refugees who participate in this project are exceptionally motivated and determined to put something back into the communities that have welcomed them,” says John Knights

“Most are people who want to learn more about the area they live in or to improve their English. A lot are professionals – doctors, lawyers, accountants and nurses - who just need some support and encouragement to realise their ambitions.”

The recruitment process for Regional Coordinators will begin in August, with the schemes up and running by October.

For more information on refugee mentoring visit www.timetogether.org.uk

-ENDS-

For more press information, case studies and images contact Helen Wylie: 020 7785 6388 / 07784 129 651 / Email: h.wylie@timebank.org.uk

Notes to editors:

(1) The Invest to Save Budget (ISB) is a joint Treasury/Cabinet Office initiative with an aim to create sustainable improvements in the capacity to deliver public services in a more joined up manner. A key principle of the ISB programme is that investment is provided in return for reform. TimeBank’s Time Together initiative is joint funded by the Home Office and HM Treasury’s Invest to Save budget. http://www.isb.gov.uk/hmt.isb.application.2/index.asp

(2) Time Together was launched in 2002 and currently operates in the following cities: Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, London, Manchester, Nottingham, Peterborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Sheffield and Southampton. For more information log onto www.timetogether.org.uk or call 0845 601 4008.

(3) TimeBank is a national campaign inspiring and connecting people to share and give time www.timebank.org.uk

(4) Add your name to our media mailing list and you'll receive regular press releases from TimeBank keeping you updated on new campaigns and activity. Visit our online Media Centre for more information. www.timebank.org.uk/mediacentre