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First friendship and dating agency for adults with learning disabilities and autism

Zoom dates, an online supper club and web-based karaoke are just some of the activities on offer as Flintshire’s first friendship and dating service for people with learning disabilities opens its doors – virtually.

Luv2meetU Flintshire, which is run by national learning disabilities charity Hft, is focused on supporting people with learning disabilities and their families to develop and sustain relationships, improve their health and wellbeing, and extend their social networks.

Originally set to feature activities around the Flintshire area, the unique dating service has transformed its packed programme of events into a virtual calendar.

Aiming to address the increased risk of loneliness and isolation which may be particularly affecting people with learning disabilities during the pandemic, Luv2meetU offers a range of events and activities allowing people to get connected, make friends, or even meet that special someone.

The friendship service will run approximately seven events a week, including quizzes, telephone bingo, chair yoga, art workshops and social drinks.

All events are run virtually to ensure people are able to get together and socialise without increasing their risk of infection or breaking potential lockdown restrictions.

As well as providing opportunities for people to chat and make friends, members can take part in activities such as cookery sessions, and may even able to take part in chaperoned virtual dates in future.

Karen England, Luv2meetU manager, said interest for the service is already growing, with people attending events and providing feedback on what activities they’d like to see offered in future.

‘Despite the unusual circumstances, we couldn’t be more excited to be launching Flintshire’s very first friendship dating service for people with learning disabilities or autism.

‘Now more than ever, people with disabilities need support to enable them to continue to forge the social connections that are so crucial to everyone’s wellbeing and happiness.

‘While we may not be able to meet in person yet, we are very much open and are looking forward to welcoming lots of new faces to Luv2meetU.’

Many have been connecting with Luv2meetU members across the country and are already looking forward to meeting their new friends when face to face events are able to resume.

After officially launching at a socially distanced ribbon cutting on 12 October, the service is now calling for adults with learning disabilities or autism based in Flintshire, to sign up to taster sessions and see if they might like to join.

Luv2meetU was originally set up as a pilot in the Leeds and Wakefield area in 2007, supporting 40 people to get out and about, socialise and build friendships.

The team now supports around 350 to 400 people with services in areas including Bradford, Kirklees, Bristol, Sheffield, Newcastle, Cheshire and Leeds, and has enabled dozens more to make friends and forge relationships.

To find out more about joining Luv2meetU, click here or contact luv2meetU@hft.org.uk.

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