23.Jan.2006

TimeBank Refugee Mentoring Scheme Launches in Five New Cities

A unique refugee mentoring scheme, developed by national volunteering charity TimeBank, will be introduced in five new cities next month following completion of the tendering process with local organisations in Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, Newcastle and Sheffield being awarded social franchises to run the programme.

Time Together aims to help refugees settle into British society and to create ambassadors for refugees in UK communities. By encouraging and aiding integration, the scheme challenges misconceptions about refugees in local communities and seeks to promote positive images of refugees in the media. So far, more than 500 refugees have benefited from one-on-one mentoring relationships with volunteer mentors through Time Together. Time Together was launched in 2002 in London, Birmingham and Glasgow, and in Plymouth, Peterborough and Manchester in 2004. The scheme has been so successful it secured funding to be introduced in a further 18 cities.

The tenders were awarded to: Leeds Library; Northern Refugee Centre Sheffield; Sova Cardiff; Bristol Volunteer Centre; North of England Refugee Service Newcastle. In addition, TimeBank will be expanding its London Time Together programme by working in partnership with Praxis in east London.

Sarah Arnold, Time Together project manager, says: “Sadly, we have become used to hearing refugees described as ‘scroungers’ and ‘benefit fraudsters’. In reality, this is simply not the case - refugees are people who are forced to flee their homes due to a real threat of persecution. When they arrive in Britain the majority bring with them a wealth of skills, talent and experience that is unfortunately often wasted.

“Most of the refugees on Time Together hold qualifications and are exceptionally motivated and determined to put something back into the communities that have welcomed them. The majority are professionals – doctors, lawyers, accountants and nurses - who just need some support and encouragement to realise their ambitions.”

Time Together mentors, who come from all walks of life, spend around five hours a month with their mentees helping them with anything from writing a CV to practising their English, explaining how the internet or job market works or even enjoying a museum, gallery or football match.

Mentors encourage and motivate their mentee to achieve their goals in education, language and employment. They attend a one-day training course, are actively involved in selecting a suitable match and receive support and expenses for the duration of their mentoring relationship.

Aline, a refugee living in Birmingham, describes why she is involved with Time Together:

”When I first arrived in the UK alone two years ago from Burundi, I was very nervous about everything. Having never been to Europe before, everything was new and I was confused and scared. One of the things I found difficult when I arrived in the UK was the language as I only had very basic English. Also, I had no friends with me and have only one relative here. But I was feeling a bit safe because of the existence of human rights in this country.
"I joined Time Together because the scheme offered me a chance to improve my English and integrate, and this was very useful for me. Before I met my mentor Victoria it was very difficult to know where to go in terms of seeking advice, education and support.

"I have found being mentored very helpful because it has made me much more confident, and helped me understand the UK culture and most of all given us a great friendship.”

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

For further media information contact: Louise Clifton 020 7785 6388 / 07977 219629 l.clifton@timebank.org.uk.

-ENDS-

Notes for editors:

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 funded by the Home Office and Treasury’s Invest to Save budget. 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. http://www.isb.gov.uk/hmt.isb.application.2/index.asp

Time Together was launched in 2002 and currently operates in London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester, Peterborough, Plymouth, Brighton, Southampton, Portsmouth, Nottingham and Leicester. Volunteers give five hours a month to mentor a refugee. The scheme aims to help refugees integrate in their new community, create ambassadors for refugees in UK communities and promote more positive images of refugees in the media. For more information log onto www.timebank.org.uk/mentor or call 0845 601 4008

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

Volunteering Bristol promotes, supports and develops opportunities for people to become involved in volunteering.  For more information visit http://www.bristolvolunteers.org.uk/
 
The NRC provides a range of services that aim to improve the conditions of and opportunities for refugees and asylum seekers across Yorkshire and Humberside.   For more information visit http://www.nrcentre.org.uk/index.htm
 
The North of England Refugee Service (NERS) works to suppport and improve the lives of refugees and asylum seekers in the North of England. For more information visit http://www.refugee.org.uk
 
SOVA is a national volunteer mentoring organisation which works to strengthen communities by involving local volunteers in promoting social inclusion and reducing crime. For more information visit http://www.sova.org.uk/
 
Leeds Library & Information Service is a public library service which helps to support the local community by providing information and advice services and promoting learning and development.  For more information visit http://www.leeds.gov.uk/living/libraries/
 
Praxis supports new residents to find their place in the UK and to facilitate the creation of new communities.  For more information visit http://www.praxis.org.uk

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