Six members of the Sheffield branch of Luv2meetU, a friendship and dating agency for adults with learning disabilities, have helped to mark a milestone anniversary.
Luv2meetU, which is part-owned by national learning disabilities charity Hft, recently celebrated a decade of supporting hundreds of people to enjoy social activities, make new friends and build relationships.
Luv2MeetU, originally known as Stars in the Sky Yorkshire, first began in 2007 as a two-year pilot in Leeds and Wakefield with around 50 members offering six events a month. Since then the project has grown to offer additional services in other areas, including Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Sheffield, and currently supports over 250 people.
Locally the Sheffield branch supports around 30 members, and with the help of 10 volunteers, it runs around 8 events a month, ranging from bowling and golf to nights out at the pub or cinema. Team members also provide a chaperone service on first dates for members who want to develop a closer relationship, and run workshops on topics such as personal safety, developing confidence, and sexual health and relationships.
To mark the tenth anniversary, a special day of celebration was held on Wednesday 27 September at the Midnight Bell Pub in Leeds. £7,335 of National Lottery funding was awarded by the Big Lottery Fund for the event, which drew together members from across the country.
On the big day itself, six people from Sheffield were among the 150 guests who came together to celebrate with live music, DJs, a hog roast, and crafts.
The day was also an occasion for past and present members, staff and volunteers to reflect on a decade of fun-filled memories.
“I think Luv2meetU are doing a fantastic job,” said Luv2meetU member Christian. “It gives everyone the chance to socialise and meet people from other areas too. I always have a great time and have made lots of friends.”
Karen, Project Manager, has been working with the agency since its inception in May 2007. “For me, the best part of the job is seeing relationships flourish,” she said. “One of my personal highlights concerns Michael, who was our first ever member. I chaperoned his first date with Mandy a few years ago, and they’ve been inseparable ever since. Now they are planning their wedding.”
Karen went on to add that Luv2meetU would not be able to able to run without the support of volunteers. “We all have a right to make friends, go dating and maybe find love, and people with learning disabilities are no exception. Luv2meetU offers people a new way to socialise, have fun and be themselves. It’s popular, and it’s changing lives.”
“None of this would be possible without our fantastic volunteers, who give up their evenings and weekends to help out on events and outings,” she added. “Their motivation and dedication helps our members to feel comfortable, supported and involved. Volunteers also tell us they love spending social time with the people we support and seeing them grow in confidence.”
If you are interested in finding out about volunteering opportunities with the Sheffield branch of Luv2meetU, or would like to become a member, contact the main office on 01274 655956/ luv2meetU@hft.org.uk.