NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Aberdeen charity makes a date with Big Lottery Fund boost

Dates-n-mates Aberdeen Image copyright Dates-n-mates
Image caption Joan Smith (second from right) uses the Dates-n-mates Aberdeen service

A project aimed at helping adults with learning disabilities find friends and love has won funding for the next five years.

Dates-n-mates Aberdeen has been awarded more than £319,000 from the Big Lottery Fund to expand its programme.

The service - run by people with learning disabilities - has been operating in Aberdeen for a year.

It has offered dozens of people the chance of activities such as speed dating, karaoke, pool and bowling.

'Positive potential'

Dates-n-mates Aberdeen - the brainchild of charity C-Change Scotland - is one of 27 Scottish projects sharing £4.9m of Big Lottery Fund money.

C-Change Scotland chief executive officer Sam Smith said: "Relationships and friendships are key to a good and happy life.

"Dates-n-mates members in the Greater Glasgow area tell us that the relationships they have formed through the project have made a positive and lasting difference to their lives.

"The Grampian pilot project, funded by Aberdeen City Council, highlighted a similar level of need.

"C-Change Scotland is delighted that the Big Lottery has recognised the positive potential of this project by awarding funding to support the development of dates-n-mates Aberdeen for the next five years."

'Try new things'

Joan Smith, who uses the service in Aberdeen, said: "I am really glad dates-n-mates Aberdeen has got funding from the Lottery, it will mean we can plan ahead more.

"I have met lots of new people and got to know them through the events. I look forward to meeting up together and we always have a laugh.

"Dates-n-mates has given me the confidence to try new things, I even tried trampolining."

Big Lottery Fund Scotland chairwoman Maureen McGinn said: "I am delighted that dates-n-mates Aberdeen will be able to expand and develop their activities thanks to this funding.

"We know, having funded its sister service in Glasgow, just how important projects like this are, allowing people to meet other like-minded people in a safe and relaxed environment.

"Whether it's finding love or developing and sustaining long term friendships, the service will make a huge difference to the lives of many people, along the way increasing their confidence and self-esteem and giving them greater independence to enjoy new activities."

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