A refugee mentoring scheme has called for volunteers to help recent arrivals settle into their new lives in Birmingham.

Volunteering charity Time-Bank is relaunching its national refugee mentoring scheme, Time Together, in Birmingham this month.

It aims to match refugees with mentors to help them integrate into British society and to dispel negative beliefs.

The Birmingham mentoring programme will be run by the Employability Forum which promotes the employment of refugees and the integration of migrant workers.

A spokesperson for the Employability Forum said: "We are delighted to be working in partnership with Time-Bank on Time Together Birmingham which provides a valuable support system to local people.

"This has proven to be a great initiative, which helps refugees to integrate whilst promoting volunteering to residents.

"Mentoring is a two-way process which brings many benefits to all concerned."

Aline, a refugee now living in Birmingham and taking part in Time Together, arrived alone in the UK from Burundi two years ago.

She said: "When I first arrived I was very nervous about everything. Having never been to Europe before, everything was new and I was confused and scared.

"One of the main things I found difficult when I arrived in the UK was the language as I only had very basic English.

"Also, I had no friends with me and have only one relative here. But I was feeling safe because of the existence of human rights in this country.

"I joined Time Together because the scheme offered me a chance to improve my English and integrate, and this was very useful for me.

"Before I met my mentor it was very difficult to know where to go in terms of seeking advice, education and support.

"I have found being mentored very helpful because it has made me much more confident, helped me understand the UK culture and most of all given me a great friendship."

TimeBank claims the initiative has proved a runaway success in London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Plymouth, Peterborough and Manchester - with more than 500 refugees benefiting from one-on-one mentoring relationships with volunteers - and is now launching the scheme in a further 18 cities across the UK.

By helping refugees to integrate, Time Together aims to produce a positive view of the contribution the newcomers can make to their local communities.

Sarah Arnold, Time Together project manager, said: "Sadly, we have become used to hearing refugees described as 'scroungers' and 'benefit fraudsters'.

"In reality, this is simply not the case - refugees are people who are forced to flee their homes due to a real threat of persecution. When they arrive in Britain the majority bring with them a wealth of skills, talent and experience - 85 per cent of refugees hold qualifications that are unfortunately often wasted.

"The majority are professionals - doctors, lawyers, accountants and nurses - who just need a little bit of support and encouragement to realise their ambitions."

Time Together mentors will spend about five hours a month with their charges. The primary role of mentors is to motivate refugees to achieve their goals in education, language and employment. Mentors will be given training, support and out-of-pocket expenses.

* To register as a mentor or for more information about the work of TimeBank visit the charity's website at www.timebank.co.uk