Project information

Love4Life, Hampshire

Friendships make our lives worthwhile. Sadly, adults with learning disabilities are highly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation leaving many afraid to go out and extremely lonely. Love4Life supports adults with learning disabilities to socialise and form relationships in a safe, fun environment.

ongoing, started in March 2016

Charity information: FitzRoy

FitzRoy logo
  • Need

    Need

    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. Thus many people with learning disabilities feel isolated and unable to participate in leisure activities. There are 35,000 people with learning disabilities in Hampshire and the 2016 Hampshire Learning Disability Plan flagged that safe opportunities for socialising were an urgent priority for local adults.

    Solution

    Love4Life (L4L),is a friendship and dating service for adults with learning disabilities and autism, based in Fareham, however some members travel from as far away as Reading, so desperate are they for the opportunity to socialise . Membership is 104 and growing. L4L organise 10 social events a month, deliver 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 have opportunities to socialise reducing isolation and loneliness

    Activities

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

    Activities

    » Run workshops through the year on topics such as: online safety, confidence building, relationship and sex education, money management, 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.

    Activities

    » 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

    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.

    Risk

    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 and adults with learning disabilities don't attract the same support from the public as other causes. Because of its life-changing impact, it's a priority for our small fundraising team so we raise funds from individual donors, run events and apply to Charitable Trusts with mixed results. We are applying to the Big Lottery Fund for 2018/19.

    Reporting

    We provide tailored reports to our Trust 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

    Location

    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.

    Beneficiaries

    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.

    People

    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.

    Sarah

    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.

£64

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