Published: 06:00, 10 September 2019
A dating agency designed to give adults with learning disabilities a better chance of finding love is set to be launched near Herne Bay.
Care worker Holly Leadbetter decided to create Aiding Love after witnessing the difficulties many of her clients experience when trying to meet new people.
She says that, currently, adults with learning disabilities living across the district have few opportunities to socialise with new groups of people and meet potential suitors.
“A lot of them want relationships, but find it hard to meet people as they tend to socialise with the same people,” she said.
“A few of them have applied for a few dating services, but there’s nothing really for them in this area.
“We’ve got one client who’s applied to The Undateables a couple of times.
“They didn’t apply to it because they wanted to be on television, they applied to it because they wanted to meet someone and have a person to share their lives with.”
Ms Leadbetter knows of several couples who have met because they have been supported by the same companies, or attended the same day services or schools - but says many have not been so fortunate.
The care worker founded the dating service - which will be open to people across the Canterbury district and Thanet - after one of her clients suggested the idea.
“I know a man who has been really desperate to find someone for a really long time,” she added.
“He had a girlfriend for a really long time, then after they split up he came out as gay, and it’s even harder to find someone in the learning disability community who has the same sexuality as him.”
Ms Leadbetter says users will be matched with another person once a month and be able to attend regular events.
The agency will organise transport, activities and chaperones for each of the dates.
"We want to make sure this is being done in a really safe way because we’re dealing with vulnerable adults..." Ms Leadbetter
“We will match them together based on their interests, hobbies and personality types,” Ms Leadbetter explained.
“The support workers will be at the dates. We want to make sure this is being done in a really safe way because we’re dealing with vulnerable adults. It doesn’t have to be romantic; some people might make new friends and add to their social circle.”
Aiding Love will launch after a “Meet and Mingle” event at 6pm on Saturday, September 29, at the Swalecliffe and Chestfield Community Association.
The service costs £15 a month. Visit www.facebook.com/aidinglove.