Horsesmouth is a social network for informal networking, where anyone can give and gain advice on everything from starting a business or finding the right career path to relationships or living with depression.
“Someone knows what you need; someone needs what you know,” is the simple, yet powerful, message behind online mentoring service Horsesmouth.
The site is a safe, moderated platform for informal one-to-one mentoring covering all the important aspects of life, from health and wellbeing to career choices, employability and business support. It is open and free to the general public (16+) and allows individuals to browse profiles, make relevant connections and conduct safe conversations. People can also publish their personal stories, rate and thank each other, manage their time, and build their mentoring reputation through the ‘Mfactor’ points system.
Anyone can become a member and get advice straight away. Mentors must provide more detailed information on their life experiences, which appears on their profile, and be approved.
Horsesmouth creates new social capital from “unused” human potential. This simplest form of human exchange is made easy, convenient and available to everyone.
The site facilitates connections for mentoring across social barriers that may not be typically crossed in everyday life. By allowing people to profile as their “whole” selves (all aspects of their lives) it encourages more mentoring connections to be made. For example, a cancer sufferer may also be a business owner; a teenage dad may also be a young apprentice.
Horsesmouth now has 50,000 registered members aged 16-76, of whom around 25,000 are profiled and approved as mentors. To date the site has facilitated and hosted more than 200,000 supportive relationships between individuals.
In addition to initial seed funding, the site has been funded through partnerships with organisations that have used it to host mentoring communities around specific topics or themes. For example, the National Apprenticeships Service on Apprenticeships and the Department of Health on Dementia Care.
Horsesmouth was awarded £50,000 in the first round of the Innovation in Giving Fund to expand the reach of the site, enhance the active management of the existing mentor community and explore and secure new revenue streams.
Mary Teresa Rainey