Project information

Love 4 Life

Help us keep our life-changing project, Love4Life alive. This project gives people with learning disabilities a chance to socialise in safety, away from the abuse they can experience. It also ends the devastating loneliness & isolation many are at risk of, which can lead to mental health problems.

ongoing, started in March 2016

Charity information: FitzRoy

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  • Need


    The harsh reality is 9/10 people with a learning disability have been a victim of violence or aggression from a stranger and are highly vulnerable to financial or sexual exploitation when socialising. Consequently many people with learning disabilities are afraid to go out and feel isolated and alone. This is a serious problem because, as the Royal College of GPs has highlighted; people who are lonely are 50% more likely to die prematurely than people with a good social network.


    Love4Life (L4L), is a friendship and dating service for adults with learning disabilities and autism, currently based in Hampshire. Some members travel from other counties, sometimes over 100 miles, so desperate are they to socialise. Membership is 104 and growing. L4L organises 10 social events a month, delivers life skills courses, and, should members wish to date, offers sensitively chaperoned dates and expert one-on-one advice on all aspects of romantic and sexual relationships.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Adults with learning disabilities and autism can socialise in safety reducing isolation.


    » Provide 10 supported social events a month (venues chosen by members) e.g. meals, discos, bowling, cinema, pub, trampoline park, zoo, coffee and cake
    » A ‘travel buddy’ system groups together local members to make sure they are safe, and transport is affordable.
    » Shy and new members receive support to encourage participation and increase confidence.
    » Our closed and monitored Facebook group enables members to chat in-between events and building confidence to join in events.

    We will gauge success through: recording attendance at events; members and parents satisfaction survey; bi-monthly member meetings and ad hoc member feedback.

    Aim 2

    Increase members' life skills and confidence.


    » Run workshops through the year on things like: online safety, confidence building, relationship and sex education, money management, and cookery.
    » Identify members who would benefit from particular workshops and encourage attendance. Members decide which type of workshops we should run.
    » Train volunteers and staff in workshop topics in advance of delivery.
    » Utilise external trainers when necessary, e.g. St Johns Ambulance for first aid, also Neighbourhood Watch, Local Benefits Office etc.

    To evaluate success we'll use course feedback forms; the annual survey and c. 30 members regularly attend bi-monthly meetings to comment on courses, events, raise issues.

    Aim 3

    Support members to form meaningful romantic relationships if they wish.


    » Run a matching programme to ensure individuals matched are closely suited to each other.
    » Give expert one-on-one guidance to members, many of whom have no experience, on any aspect of romantic or sexual relationships that they require.
    » Provide sensitively chaperoned dates and ensure staff in date venues are prepared and supportive.
    » Support any members who subsequently wish to leave a relationship to do so in a sensitive and respectful manner.

    Success measured through: numbers forming relationships, getting engaged, moving in together etc. Anecdotal evidence from surveys, feedback to members meetings as above.

  • Impact


    Hugely increased happiness and confidence. Our annual evaluations give us statistics e.g. 100% of members say they'd recommend L4L to a friend but individual stories are the best demonstration. E.g. before joining L4L Sophie was lonely, had no confidence and was afraid to meet new people and spent every night at home. Now she is often out, has lots of friends, a lovely fiancee Ian, and after participating in the L4L's confidence workshop she was thrilled to secure her first paying job.


    The main risk is funding. If funds became an issue we would have to scale back or close the service. There is no statutory funding available. Because of its life-changing impact, it's a priority for our small fundraising team, however fundraising is very tough at present and adults with learning disabilities don't attract the same support from the public as other causes so it is a real struggle to raise sufficient funds.


    We can provide tailored reports to our donors, including case studies, photos and numerical data on attendance, we can also provide summaries of any user evaluation we undertake. We can add in any other information a donor would like to see. There may be the possibility to meet members and staff.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £52,099

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £26,157 Project Coordinator FT salary, includes NI, pension
      £6,981 Project Manager PT, 7.5 hours a week, also manages other FitzRoy services
      £2,800 Training For staff and volunteers
      £5,800 Office rental, phones, stationery
      £1,500 IT hardware and software
      £2,000 materials marketing, course papers, booklets, equipment
      £6,861 central support associated central support from quality, fundraising, marketing, finance, HR, H&S, IT

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Basepoint Waterlooville £10,000 Guaranteed
    Dragon Boat Race £7,700 Guaranteed
    Spinnaker Abseil £4,000 Conditional
  • Background


    L4L is in Fareham, a town near Southampton in south Hampshire. In 2016, FitzRoy was approached by small, 10-year old local charity, Stars in the Sky, who were closing due to lack of funds. In March 2016 we merged so their 50 members wouldn’t lose their much-valued social lives. We employed a Stars volunteer as FT Project Coordinator, renamed as Love4Life and retained the original office to give members some continuity. We now have 104 members from across Hampshire and surrounding counties.


    Adults with learning disabilities or an autism spectrum disorder. Most are between 18 and 30, but there is no upper age limit. There is an even split between genders and we encourage members of any sexual orientation. Members broadly reflect the demographics of the local area (92% White British). There is a high demand and we can enrol 25 new members each year. Parents are overwhelmingly supportive and also benefit, enjoying respite whilst knowing their child is safe and having fun.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    FitzRoy manages 77 services for adults with learning disabilities and autism including supported living, day services, and residential homes. We understand the frustrations adults with learning disabilities face when it comes to forming friendships. FitzRoy rescued this project in 2016 when a tiny local charity closed. Since then we've increased membership by 54, added events, raised L4L's profile on Channel 4's 'The Undateables' and L4L has also benefited from our central support functions.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Hayley Ostler

    FT Project Coordinator, runs project day to day. Previously volunteered at Stars for 7 years, has a SEN teaching background.

    Lou Clarke

    PT Project Manager, Lou oversees, has over 20 years experience working with adults with learning disabilities, also manages two FitzRoy day centres.


    Volunteer for 4 years (5 hrs a week), assists with organising and supporting events, chaperones dates, listens to and advises members with issues.

    Ian Kemp

    Committee Leader and L4L member - Leads L4L committee to give members a voice; also responsible for introducing and welcoming new members to group.

Watch Joanne's story


will pay for a chaperoned date for two

This friendship group is one of the best things to happen to Andrew in his life and I'm sure he's not the only one who will say this if asked, its value is beyond measure.” Bob, parent

Bob, parent