Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Campaign launched to save learning disability dating and friendship service

Stars in the SkyA campaign has been launched that aims to raise £74,000 to save a Hampshire-based project that supports people with disabilities stay safe when they go out, meet people online, and look for love.

The fundraising campaign, called Love4Life, is being led by FitzRoy, a national charity supporting people with disabilities. FitzRoy were approached by the team at Stars in the Sky to see if they could help save them.

Over the past few years, Stars in the Sky Hampshire, a volunteer-driven, grassroots organisation has been living hand to mouth as it has seen its funding go down and down. Stars in the Sky is a leisure, dating and friendship registered charity, which aims to assist people with learning disabilities to have opportunities to develop and sustain friendships and relationships.

The charity holds up to 10 social events each month and supports a number of one-to-one dates each week that take place throughout the month in between events.

Anna Galliford, chief executive of FitzRoy, said: “We’re setting up Love4Life to fundraise to save Stars in the Sky, as it does a vital job preventing loneliness and helping people with disabilities find love and enjoy life. The sad reality is that for many people with learning disabilities the chance of finding love is impossible because they face abuse and harm when going out, or using online dating services. Because of this they can end up lonely and isolated.

“Saving this project helps us address the concerns parents of people with disabilities revealed for our latest report, recently published, ‘Who will care after I’ve gone?’. Parents expressed deep concern about their grown up children who had no one to share their lives with and few opportunities to find meaningful relationships outside of the immediate family.”

Mark Foster, a volunteer at Stars in the Sky, added: “This project is the reason a quiet lonely man or woman with mental health issues leaves the relative security of their bedroom. It is the reason they brave public transport knowing they will likely be stared at or whispered about. The reason they step out of their comfort zone. It gives them the very thing that we all crave. Friends. Understanding. Warmth. Love, and a feeling of belonging. The few hours at each event is a time to share problems with people who are going through the same thing. They can share their thoughts without fear of being judged, laughed at or looked down upon.

“This feeling of being wanted and belonging to something outside of their bedroom is the foundations on which they grow and develop. Once they realise they have that support around them they soon find their voice, express their ideas and push their own boundaries. Their confidence grows and the natural progression is to improve other areas of their lives. Employment, Relationships. Suddenly the possibilities are endless and all because they have that foundation of support and encouragement which this project helps to provide.”

To watch our video and for more information about the campaign click here

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