Back to Life

Back to Life was our groundbreaking volunteer mentoring scheme that offered practical and emotional support to young men and women aged 18-35 recovering from mental health issues.

The project has now come to an end, but TimeBank hopes to develop this work with mental health teams across London so watch this space! And in the meantime, you might like to take a look at our exciting new project that matches volunteer mentors with young people who are living with mental health issues like depression, anxiety or self-harm, The Switch.

How Back to Life began:

The 2006 Mental Health and Social Exclusion report identified that young men with mental health problems had a high risk of social exclusion, the potential to drop out of education or work, the risk of becoming involved with crime and a high risk of suicide.

TimeBank believed that being matched with a trained volunteer mentor of a similar age could help these young men re-engage with and participate in society. Back to Life was launched in 2008 with funding from the South London and Maudsley (SLaM) Charitable Trust and shortly afterwards, the project was extended to support young women too.

How it works:

Back to Life worked in Croydon, Southwark, Lambeth and Lewisham, with young people referred by SLaM. TimeBank now hopes to expand the project to work with other SLaM services including young adults who were detained in forensic mental health units and are now making the move to supported housing. Back to Life matched volunteers aged 18-35 with someone recovering from mental illness of a similar age and same sex who needs support. Helping someone write a CV or simply meeting for a coffee once a week can make a huge difference to their lives.

Mentors spent five hours a month with their mentees for a minimum of six months and received full training and support. Every relationship was different but might have included:

  • Work on developing job skills
  • Go out for a coffee and a chat
  • Get involved with a new activity, hobby or sport
  • Develop communication skills and confidence