An Aberdeen service that helps match up people with learning difficulties with friends and partners is hoping to expand to the north-east and look for new funding.
Dates N Mates is run by C-Change and is part of Scotland’s first dating and friendship agency for those with a disability.
They currently have about 60 members in the Granite City and put on regular events to get them networking and potentially find romance.
Now they are hoping to raise awareness about the service they offer and branch out to help more people around the north-east.
Louise McEwan, project development and volunteer co-ordinator for the service, highlighted some of the things they have done to make life better for those with learning difficulties.
She said: “We put on a range of social events every month, about five of them, getting adults with learning difficulties out in the community and making new friends.
“We also offer dating opportunities, like chaperoning and supporting them on their own dates or speed-dating events.
“We do training, like communication, how to develop friendships or relationships, just really getting adults with learning difficulties comfortable in making friends and potentially relationships as well.”
The initiative has been around for five years and was initially funded by Aberdeen City Council for the first year.
It was then rewarded five years of funding from the Big Lottery Fund, which runs out at the end of 2021.
The organisation’s head office in Glasgow is looking into financial grants for other branches who have less funding before they look at the Aberdeen branch.
Ms McEwan believes the success so far of the service can be measured by how many people they have helped with it.
She said: “It’s a very important service because a lot of our members haven’t had the social upbringing that the rest of us have and have been quite isolated as they haven’t formed many friendships at school.
“Some of them have been in different schools where they have been excluded from the general community and this gives them the confidence they need to form friendships and relationships.
“We offer them the skills and opportunity to make friends just like anyone else would do.”
The charity would like to expand even more and give people with learning difficulties outwith Aberdeen the chance to socialise as well.
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Ms McEwan added: “We’ve seen people who come to us who are really shy and think they can’t make friends and you see them a few months down the line and they look like a different person, happier and more confident.
“We are funded by the Big Lottery funding right now but will be on the hunt for new funding soon.”
To find out more about the service visit the website here.