Shoulder to Shoulder

Our Shoulder to Shoulder volunteer mentoring programme in Scotland supports ex-service men and women who are recovering from mental health issues or having difficulty adjusting to civilian life. 

TimeBank has been awarded funding from the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), to develop, pilot and evaluate an on-line mentoring platform for ex-Service personnel in Scotland who have been affected by mental health and wellbeing problems. 

The 18-month project will be divided into two stages. During the first six months we’ll revise and refine our training materials and pilot the online platform. In the second stage, 30 beneficiaries will be matched with an on-line volunteer mentor, with an average of six months’ support provided.

Mentoring will take place through an on-line video platform developed by Odro, a leader in video-based technology, which allows beneficiaries to have conversations with their mentors in real time and exchange files and messages.

Shoulder to Shoulder Online draws on TimeBank’s extensive experience of providing mentoring support to members of the ex-services community.

Shoulder to Shoulder Erskine was set up in 2014 to recruit and train volunteers as mentors to veterans in Glasgow and Edinburgh.  Mentors encouraged them to manage their finances, use public transport, take exercise and write CVs, to access local support services and sort out housing issues. It helped veterans to reduce social isolation, focus on routine and structure and encouraged volunteering to help with potential career paths. 

We know that volunteer mentoring can be a powerful tool. It can help veterans lead independent lives, with the confidence to identify goals, lead on their own recovery plans and take control of their lives.

An external evaluation of the project by Edinburgh research consultancy The Lines Between highlighted the success of the project and its positive outcomes.

It found the project met a need and addressed a gap in service provision. The report said the unique nature of the service clearly provided a valued and useful addition to services that support veterans and pointed to increases in confidence, self-esteem and social networks resulting from mentoring. It concludes that the voluntary nature of the mentors’ contribution was a particular motivator, creating a social bond that encouraged engagement in the project and complemented professional services.

Volunteers on the project felt they had learnt more about mental health issues and veterans’ support needs and gained a feeling of self-worth that came from doing something valuable.The report included a recommendation to make the mentoring service more widely available across Scotland, and this innovative application of modern communication technology is the result.

You can download a copy of the evaluation report below.

And if you’d like to volunteer as a mentor for Shoulder to Shoulder Online or think you would benefit from a mentor, we are here to help. Please call Ali, the Senior Project  Co-ordinator on 07437 437867 or email her at ali@timebank.org.uk.