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Paradox: Inclusion vs special and different

As an organisation committed to social inclusion, equality and human rights, setting up a dating and friendship agency specifically for people with learning disabilities was an unusual step.

Forming and sustaining relationships is a tough old game. More so if, as a person with a learning disability, no one has ever supported you to consider the spoken and unspoken rules of relationships and dating, or the complexities of physical relationships. Many people with a learning disability spend their early years in institutions, schools and sometimes families where there is little or no expectation that their future might involve love, relationships or physical intimacy.

Not recognising this disabling disadvantage, in such a profound and important area of life, continues this discrimination. Equity is not achieved by ignoring discrimination and expecting equality of experience to result.

dates-n-mates was established to provide opportunities for people to grow their confidence, their network of friends and their social life. To cultivate their connection to their community, to develop skills and abilities and to share these with others. To explore the possibilities for intimacy and romance, to fall in love and to be heartbroken. All of these are aspects that make life worth living.


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