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Mentoring support for carers? - Carers UK Forum

Mentoring support for carers?

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I work for a national volunteering organisations called TimeBank. One of our areas of speciality is mentoring. We train volunteers as mentors to offer one to one support to key beneficiary groups. We currently work in the areas of mental health, refugees, older people, young people and muslim women.

We are looking to identfy new areas where volunteers offer mentoring support to those that need it. A mentor is someone who offers guidance, support and encouragement to another person on a voluntary basis. It is sometimes called a 'professional friendship' because mentors help the people they support to decide what they want to achieve and then will support them to do so.

We wanted to know whether the support of a mentor could be useful to carers. A mentor might support a carer to access the support and services they are entitled to, or they might just be someone who offers a space for your to discuss how your feel and can offer support or they might encourage you and support your to make time to look after yourself or find a new hobby which gives you a break from caring.

I would grateful if you could comment on the following:

Do you think carers would benefit from the support of a mentor?
What kind of support would you want from a mentor?
If you don't think a mentor would be useful then what are the reasons for this?
Are there other ways in which you think volunteers could provide support to carers?

If you want to find out more about the work we do visit www.timebank.org.uk

Thanks very much for your time,

Sian Greenhead
Project Manager
I think mentoring for carers is a great idea. All too often, because of our caring role we are isolated from the outside world. I went through a stage where I wasn't getting out at all, I had become almost agoraphobic, was clinically depressed and had no idea that there was any help out there. I was fortunate as my doctor picked this up and pretty much ordered me to get in touch with a carers group as part of my rehab. It was very hard, but I did it and it helped me hugely. Sadly, that group has now been taken over by another authority and has gone downhill so much that it is virtually useless for me now. Luckily I don't feel the need for it any more but I know there are people out there who do, not only in my area but there are plenty of areas where there isn't any sort of group to turn to. I also feel that if I had had a mentor I wouldn't have become as bad as I did before I found help, it's so much easier to talk on a 1 - 1 basis rather than to face going out into a group for the first time - that was really scary for me, I got panic attacks and it took ages to find the courage to start, I almost gave up before I began. Good luck, I hope you succeed, I know you will be a great help to a lot of carers, your only problem will be in finding the carers who need your help most as they are the ones who don't ask for it.
Thanks Sue, your feedback and encouragement is really useful.