A friendship and dating agency for adults with learning disabilities has an extra special reason to celebrate this Valentine’s Day thanks to National Lottery funding.
Luv2meetU, which is run in collaboration with the national learning disabilities charity Hft, has secured £326,141 from the Big Lottery Fund.
The Bradford-based project will enable more than 250 adults with learning disabilities across Yorkshire and Cheshire to gain more confidence, become less isolated and increase their ability to sustain and develop friendships.
The team currently run 40 events each month including walks, pub visits, bowling and club nights. The grant will help them to increase this to 50 events, allowing 60 more people to build relationships every month.
Lauren from Leeds, who has been supported by Luv2meetU said: “Before I became a member of Luv2meetU I was sat in the house all the time, I didn’t go out socially at all. But now with Luv2meetU it’s turned my life around. I go out more to lots of different places and meet new people, and I really enjoy myself. I am happy that I have met my boyfriend James. If I wasn’t with Luv2meetU I wouldn’t have met him. James makes me happy, he is a sweetheart.”
The funding will be used to expand new areas of work aimed at building relationships and increasing independence. This will include setting up a new buddy scheme to match members who share an interest or passion for an activity with a volunteer, working more with minority communities and creating a national forum.
James Harcourt, Deputy Director of Responsive Programmes at the Big Lottery Fund, said: “It’s thanks to National Lottery players that Luv2meetU is able to give people the confidence to build lifelong friendships and even find love. We’re delighted to be funding such an amazing project to expand its work and bring more people together across Yorkshire and Cheshire.”
John Proctor, Hft’s Project Director for Luv2meetU said: “We all have a right to make friends, go dating and maybe find love, but this can be hard if you have a learning disability. Luv2meetU offers people a new way to socialise, have fun and be themselves. Our members tell us that they are happier, more confident and less isolated since they’ve been coming along to events, and we’ve seen some life-long friendships formed as a result. We are delighted to have been awarded National Lottery funding for the third time.”
Hft has received £815,337 from the Big Lottery Fund in total since 2009 for Luv2meetU. The scheme also includes workshops on topics such as personal safety, developing confidence and self-esteem.