Leading to Change: In honour of JP, Dates-n-Mates Scotland National Director
In its 15th year as a project of C-Change, Dates-n-Mates launched as an independent charity on the 1st April 2023. It is Scotland’s first national dating and friendship organisation run by and for people with learning disabilities.
John Paul Moffat, JP to those who know him well, is a founding Director, who has guided the project from the beginning, ensuring members’ will and preferences inform all that Dates-n-Mates does.
When the project started, there were cautionary words about the dangers of raising learning disabled people’s expectations. Concerns expressed about the talking to the realities of sex and sexuality. Worries raised about the risks of people being exposed to information they ‘didn’t need to know’.
Dates-n-Mates worked to help those concerned understand that greater risks lay in people with learning disabilities not knowing about their rights and not understanding how to keep themselves and others safe. Working on the basis that a lack of information does not keep people safe.
Some members reported not feeling welcome in community venues. One of the commitments of Dates-n-Mates is to use everyday community facilities, pubs, clubs, theatres, and the like, and to help these places improve their offer to learning disabled people if necessary. Over the years strong relationships were built with The Arches, the venue for the first inclusive club night Club Late, The Garage, The Grand Ole Opry and others. Great alliances have been built with Pride Glasgow, Grampian Pride and other equality base organisations and movements though out Scotland.
JP, alongside the other Directors, and colleagues, led the change. Not just from a project to an independent organisation, but a bigger shift in the way that people think about lives of love and friendship for people with learning disabilities.
There is much more to do, but we should take this opportunity, in Learning Disability Week, to celebrate how far we have come and who led us along the way.
For more information on Dates-n-Mates visit:
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