Published: 00:01, 14 February 2018
A fundraising campaign is due to get underway to help people with learning disabilities discover love.
KentOnline, kmfm and KMTV's Charity of the Year mcch is getting behind the 'Supported Loving' campaign, which aims to raise money to set up singles nights for people with learning disabilities.
The charity, based in Maidstone, is encouraging supporters to share the love this Valentine's Day by donating £5 to the cause by texting 'LOVE35£5' to 70070.
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The donations will then be used to get singles nights and social events up and running.
It will mean people who may not have discovered love before have the chance to experience dating and what it's like to fall in love, like Julie Ditchburn: “I’m engaged. We met at a nightclub and we’ve been going out for a long time. We see each other a lot.”
Neval and Mark also found love through the Supported Loving campaign and have been together for more than 10 years.
Dr Claire Bates, who founded the Supported Loving campaign, said: "I've worked with people with learning disabilities for about 16 years as a support worker and a manager.
"One of the things I really wanted to look at was relationships.
"What we found was people with learning disabilities valued their relationships and their partner just as much as I did.
"People with learning disabilities need a lot of help around relationships and to go on dates and what I really wanted to do was get those findings to the people who support them.
"The aim of Supported Loving is to raise awareness of how important relationships are to people."
Dr Bates added mcch is planning to raise money through the text appeal to help fund events to get people with learning disabilities meeting in a safe place.
According to the Supported Loving website, research shows people with learning disabilities want a loving relationship with a partner.
This is despite 3% of people in the UK living as part of a couple, compared to 70% of the general population.
The campaign highlights the importance of good support in helping people develop and maintain loving relationships and identify what good and bad relationship support is.
For more information about our Charity of the Year click here.
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