Get the answer straight from the horsesmouth

A new social networking site has been launched in a bid to encourage people to volunteer, mentor and share their life experiences., the world’s first purpose-built site for online mentoring, launched its full Web 2.0 version on Wednesday with 10 partner organisations, after an 11-month trial using a test site.

Organisations such as the Media Trust, the National Union of Students, TimeBank and Women’s Aid are using the site to extend the reach of their mentoring and advice services.

More than 4,000 people have already registered as mentors with horsesmouth to advise other users of any number of life issues: from divorce to career moves, dealing with disabilities and managing exam pressure.

“I really believe that the knowledge and experience people carry around with them is a huge untapped resource,” says MT Rainey, horsesmouth’s founder, a former advertising executive. “If eBay is about the stuff you’ve got locked up in the attic, then horsesmouth is about the stuff you’ve got locked up in your head and heart.”

Rainey’s idea was sealed after a survey she commissioned last year revealed that, although most people would like to give up their time to help others, they often don't know where to go and fear it would take too much of their time.

Horsesmouth allows users to spend as much or little time as they want mentoring others through its profile management system. “It’s really hard to say no to mentoring face to face,” said Jonathan Simmons, who is responsible for partnerships at horsesmouth. “With horsesmouth, there isn’t this kind of pressure.”

Horsesmouth has been steeped in the third sector since its inception: the project was funded by Edge, the foundation that attempts to raise the status of practical and vocational training, and v, the charity that champions youth volunteering in England. Horsesmouth is being run as a social enterprise and is now actively seeking new partner organisations willing to use the website.

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