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A new web site was launched today that will connect people seeking advice on learning, training, careers and other important life matters from mentors who have agreed to share their own experiences and provide guidance.

horsesmouth.co.uk the world’s first ‘pro-social’ networking site, is purpose-built for online mentoring on a wide range of topics. It allows users to share experiences and advice anonymously on a safe and moderated platform.

With millions of people already using online forums to exchange music, pictures and gossip, horsesmouth encourages users to share more meaningful knowledge in a purposeful way. An online survey conducted by tickbox.net in February 2007 revealed that while most people would like to give up some of their time each week to help others, many do not know how to or are too busy to sign up to formal volunteering. horsesmouth allows users to volunteer by sharing their life experiences with others from the comfort of their PCs.

One of the main topics covered by the site is education and training. Anybody seeking advice on how to land their dream job, develop news skills or change careers need only type a few words into horsesmouth’s to be presented with a list of other users who have been through the same experience and are willing to share. While hundreds of web sites offer advice and guidance on specific courses and careers, horsesmouth puts users in direct contact with other people for informal, one-to-one mentoring and support.

Although most of the mentors on the site will come through normal web traffic, horsesmouth will also host partner organisations on the site. For partners, this is a great opportunity to extend the reach of existing mentoring and advice services, create new links between members or fulfill corporate social responsibility or volunteering commitments. horsesmouth will profile the partner and link to the partners’ own online resources and information. For horsesmouth members, badged mentors are an excellent source of specific personal expertise from individuals associated with known and trusted organisations.

Charter launch partners on the site are:
• Edge
• Everywoman
• Make Your Mark
• Media Trust
• Mentoring and Befriending Foundation (MBF)
• National Advertising Benevolence Society (NABS)
• National Union of Students (NUS)
• TimeBank
• Tomorrow’s Company
• Youthnet
• Women’s Aid

horsesmouth is actively seeking further partners from the education sector.

Thousands of people have already volunteered as mentors on horsesmouth’s beta (test) site. One, a 20-year-old female whose profile name is ‘Amy’, writes: “I dropped out of uni whilst studying journalism and didn’t really know what to do with myself. I decided I needed to have a long think about where I wanted my career to go and now I feel back on track and everything is now going well.”

Another mentor calls herself ‘Felicity’. Her profile reads: “I've been a career coach to managers for 10 years and am good at asking the right questions to help people decide whether to move on, stay in their job, look for another job or go off in a completely new direction.”

In contrast to many other Web 2.0 sites, horsesmouth users have to leave their looks behind: profiles do not contain photographs or real names, but make use of proprietary technology that allows users to embed their user names into a range of images to create personal branding. In order to make the site as safe an environment as possible, all profiles are moderated before posting and no real names or email addresses can be used.

Time and response management features allow mentors to manage the number of messages they receive and the amount of time they spend on the site. ‘Pearls of wisdom’ and conversations can be published by mutual agreement and become part of the site’s searchable content, which it calls the ‘wisdom pool’.

Content is professionally moderated and all profiles are approved before posting, as are web links. In order to register in the first place a secure code is sent to your mobile, which is a deterrent to people who want to use multiple identities or who have previously been blocked.

horsesmouth is the brainchild of advertising entrepreneur and prominent media industry figure MT (Mary Teresa) Rainey, who co-founded the top five advertising agency Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R. She is a founding trustee of TimeBank, a Trustee of Demos, a non-executive director of WH Smith Plc and a Visiting Professor at Glasgow University. She is also a member of the Skills Commission.

“I really believe that the knowledge and experience people carry around with them is a huge untapped resource,” says Rainey. “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.”

Andy Powell, chief executive of Edge, said: “Edge got behind horsesmouth because we saw it as key to opening up routes to advice for young people. Millions of them want to know how other people have coped with the education, work and other life options that they are trying to make decisions on. There are so many educational routes, yet we know from our research that young people are likely to be advised on only one or two of them; this has to change and horsesmouth will be a major contributor to this.

“We look forward to working with horsesmouth. We will be using it as a tool to help build links between the many experts we work with and the young people that need careers and life guidance. We will also be interested in seeing how it will fit within the Skills Commission’s current review on careers advice.”

The horsesmouth community is growing swiftly and the site was named as one of the top 25 ‘Web 2.0’ start-ups in the UK last year by the Register. The site will be run as a social enterprise, with all profits generated being driven back into the business. The site is funded by the Edge , the foundation, which campaigns to raise the status of practical and vocational learning , and v, the charity launched to champion youth volunteering in England.

The horsesmouth web platform was developed by Locayta with design and user interface by Splendid. Partnership design and marketing is handled by Public Zone and Chief Technical Consultant is Ben Way of Rainmakers.

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For further information please contact:

Narda Shirley
Gong Communications
narda@gongcommunications.com
+44 (0)20 7935 4800
+44 (0)7770 888318


This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Gong Communications in the following categories: Education & Human Resources, for more information visit http://pressreleasewire.responsesource.com/about.