Falkirk learning disability dating charity battles isolation in the community

Dates ‘n’ Mates has always promoted love and friendship and has not let COVID-19 and lockdown stop it helping those with learning disabilities to overcome social isolation.

Friday, 26th March 2021, 3:01 pm

Technology has allowed Dates ‘n’ Mates to continue to allow people to grow their social circle – through virtual events and online friendship matching.

In fact the charity project has been so successful, one of the former members it helped in the past has now become the head man at his local Falkirk Dates ‘n’ Mates branch.

John Clarke, Dates ‘n’ Mates director, had been a member with the charity for just over a year, meeting new friends and subsequently landing himself a new job.

A former member of Dates 'n' Mates John Clarke is now helping others as a director with the charity's Falkirk branch

He said: “I was enjoying being a member because it was giving me something to do instead of being stuck in the house. There were lots of events and I was getting

to meet new people.

"I was over the moon that I was offered the job.”

John, who previously volunteered in a local charity shop for 10 years and has spoken to MP’s at Westminster, made a good impression during the Zoom call job interview for the Dates ‘n' Mates director post.

At times John has found meeting new people to be a little difficult, however, thanks his experience with Dates ‘n’ Mates his confidence has grown.

He is now able to help provide valuable tips and advice to others within the project, to help vulnerable adults develop meaningful, lasting friendships.

“Really, if you want to have a good relationship with someone you need to really know how to treat a person and the right words to say to someone. The

last thing you want is to hurt someone’s feelings.”

Dates-n-mates, which provides social opportunities to develop love and friendship for adults with learning disabilities, has at least one paid director with lived experience of learning disabilities across its four Scottish branches.

Throughout the pandemic lockdown, project members from Falkirk have been able to connect and form friendships within the local area and further afield

such as Glasgow and Aberdeen, all from the safety of their own homes, thanks to the regular virtual activities on offer including bingo, cooking classes and

meet and match events.

Dates-n-mates membership is currently open to more adults with learning disabilities.

Visit www.dates-n-mates.co.uk for more information.