Time Together recruits and trains volunteers as mentors to support refugees and asylum seekers in the West Midlands.
Over a period of six months mentors and mentees meet for approximately five hours each month, and together work to agreed goals, set by the mentee. Goals could include meeting new people in the community or developing a skill or hobby. The project aims to promote the positive wellbeing of refugees and asylum seekers whist at the same time strengthening community cohesion.
TimeBank’s original Time Together project ran from 2002–2010. We recruited and matched over 2,500 refugees with volunteer mentors. The success of the original project demonstrated that volunteers can play an extremely effective role in advancing social integration and community cohesion. After a year of mentoring, 90% of beneficiaries said they felt at home in the UK and 98% reported an increase in their English language proficiency.
During the mentoring relationship volunteers form strong bonds with their partners by sharing their life experiences, with the aim of offering guidance and support to people who may be finding life settling into the UK difficult. Some volunteers have benefited so much from the experience they are mentoring a second and even a third time.
Our volunteers have gained a much better understanding of issues affecting refugees and asylum seekers, in order to support community integration and break down barriers. We hope our volunteers will use their new found knowledge and skills to access further opportunities.
At the end of the project our beneficiaries report that they feel more confident living in the UK, are less isolated, have increased self-esteem and mental well-being. They will have engaged in at least one positive activity, such as volunteering in their community or accessing education.
Our participants come from all over the world, are all over the age of 18 and are referred to the Time Together project via our Midlands based referral partners. We currently work with a wide range of organisations including Birmingham LGBT, Life Line Options, Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre, Women's Aid, Hereford Refugee Action and Wolverhampton Good Shepherd Ministry.
If you are interested in being a volunteer or a participant on Time Together, or if you would like to talk to us about your organisation becoming a referral partner, please get in touch - we'll be happy to answer any questions you may have.