At Walsingham Support, we encourage people with disabilities to step out more, build relationships and choose activities and hobbies that they want to pursue.

Mates and Dates was created with this in mind, way back in 2012 by a team of Locality Managers, looking to give adults with disabilities a safe environment to come together, have fun, dance and socialise.

Since then the event has grown from a speed dating style evening to an informal club night with music, food, drinks and occasionally a live band. Nearly 80 people we support attended the last event.

This February, the Mates and Dates event took place the day before Valentine’s Day, which made it a fitting place to launch our commitment to Supported Loving’s #openthecan campaign. This means that as an organisation we are committed to openly talk about love and relationships for people with learning disabilities, and seeing how we can improve out support in this area.

Supported Loving brings together organisations and encourages support providers to allow and enable people with learning disabilities to explore love, discuss and generally raise awareness of the subject. As part of our continuous drive to improve support and enable independence for people with learning disabilities, we have signed up and formed a working group to look at how we can improve.

The team are working on ways of how to achieve better support for people to explore relationships in the future, with a member from all relevant departments in the group. We plan to implement this in our relationships policy and practices in the near future.