'Happily', a secure new friendship and dating agency, has been set up to promote safe access to fulfilling relationships.
The idea of happily was born from first-hand experience of helping my younger sister who has learning disabilities to find love and friendship. Having exhausted our efforts on numerous online dating websites, apps and introduction agencies, I realised that more needed to be done to connect people and to support them to build meaningful relationships.
There wasn’t a service dedicated specifically for adults with learning disabilities in London, which had appropriate safeguarding measures in place and was also accessible to members. We spoke to families, charities as well as other dating agencies based outside of London who all agreed there was a need for something like happily.
Happily aims to provide a safe environment for members to make new friends and go on dates with appropriate support. As a way of giving back to the community, happily will also host free workshops about relationships for its members and partner charities.
It is the close connection with charities that I believe makes happily so special. We pride ourselves on our partnerships with charities across London, helping provide the best service to our members.
Secure and supportive
Applicants are adults with learning disabilities. Full details of the registration process, which involves attending an interview and providing references from their support workers, are on our website. For safety and reassurance we attend the dates if that's what people want.
The social enterprise will be led by my and supported by my mother Dr Corriene Reed as well as a team of dedicated volunteers. I have previously worked with adults with learning disabilities and autism, while my mother Corriene is a developmental psychologist with a doctorate in psychology. We are both passionate about supporting individuals both personally and professionally.
To celebrate the launch of the new dating agency, happily hosted a garden tea party in West London (pictured above), where the company’s headquarters are based. Guests enjoyed homemade cakes and drinks on a sunny afternoon.
Happily hopes to achieve great things over the next twelve months, including bringing people together, hosting social events as well as relationship workshops for members and partner charities.
I'll give the final word to my sister: "It's hard to find people to meet and we need help to do social things," she says. "I think Happily will be really fun and interesting and will help to meet new people."
For anyone looking for more information about happily, please visit happilydating.co.uk. To become a member or to find out more about volunteering call 07397066761 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.