Online mentoring supports carers through the stresses and strains of caring

Carers’ emotional resilience improved ‘significantly’ after taking part in a volunteer mentoring project run by TimeBank, the national volunteering charity, and Carers UK.

In an external evaluation by Cloud Chamber Evaluation Services, carers said mentoring had allowed them to vent their frustrations when they reached boiling point, to develop coping strategies, and to realise they weren’t alone.

The project - Carers Together - offered face-to-face mentoring to carers in Birmingham and online mentoring to carers throughout England. Funded by the Big Lottery Fund, it was the first project in the country to offer online support to carers in this way.

The evaluation noted that online mentoring could be especially useful in allowing carers to express their anger, feelings and raw emotions.  It allowed them the flexibility to send messages at a time convenient to them, or when they felt particularly overwhelmed by their caring responsibilities. And some carers said they were more willing to discuss personal and emotional issues online that they would have found difficult or embarrassing to raise in face-to-face conversations.

Online mentoring also meant TimeBank was able to recruit a wide pool of volunteer mentors from across the country instead of a small geographical area, enabling careful matching of mentors to carers’ specific needs.

It also enabled the project to triple the number of people the charity was able to support, because each volunteer mentor could respond to more than one carer online. In this way 64 volunteers were able to support 53 carers in face-to-face relationships and 238 online.

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of TimeBank, says: “We’ve found that the ability to offload, discuss problems and have a sympathetic listening ear can have a huge impact on carers’ mental health and well-being – and that online mentoring is an extremely effective way of delivering support.  The success of Carers Together has demonstrated that volunteer mentoring has a vital role to play in the early intervention agenda.”    

A full copy of the evaluation report is available to download at www.timebank.org.uk/carers-together/how-does-it-help

Ends

Notes to Editors:

TimeBank is a national volunteering charity, started in 2000. It recruits and trains volunteers to deliver mentoring projects to tackle complex social problems and also works with businesses to engage their staff in volunteering.

TimeBank believe that great volunteering can transform the lives of both volunteers and beneficiaries by building stronger, happier and more inclusive communities.

For media information, contact julias@timebank.org.uk  or tel: 020 3111 0721/0771 3163003