dates-n-mates: Origins and collaboration
The following is today’s edition in a series of short blogs on the subject of love, sex and relationships written in support of Learning Disability Week 2021.
Sometimes progress seems to happen quickly then, looking at the same issue another day, it can seem that very little positive change has been achieved. The theme of Learning Disability week 2021 is relationships, the core focus of the work of dates-n-mates, a dating and friendship agency run by and for people with learning disabilities.
In 2008 a number of organisations, listening to the people they supported, recognised a common issue. Adults with learning disabilities were saying that they wanted the same opportunity for love and friendship they saw available to everyone else. Making and sustaining relationships can be difficult for anyone but more so for people with learning disabilities for many reasons; lack of opportunity, low aspirations on behalf of others, low confidence among some learning disabled people and systemic discrimination.
dates-n-mates was explicitly set up to challenge these negative assumptions and prejudices. Also, to increase the belief and confidence of members about their right, as much as any other citizen, to a life with love and friendship.
It is a testament to the changing nature of our society that this is less of a contested area in theory, that is progress. Ensuring that what people largely agree becomes the reality for people with learning disabilities is where more work is needed.
Relationships being the theme for Learning Disability Week 2021 provides a welcome focus on this important issue.
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