Spotlight on: Dates-n-mates Falkirk
An example of inclusion and independence support for adults as an alternative to building-based day services, this case study is one of many included in our latest annual performance report.
As Scotland’s national dating and friendship agency for adults with learning disabilities, Dates-n-Mates improves the health and wellbeing of its members in Falkirk by helping them overcome the loneliness and social isolation to which many people with learning disabilities are particularly susceptible.
The team have achieved this by:
- providing opportunities and support to make and sustain friendships and close personal relationships
- supporting people to develop the skills and abilities to make decisions about, develop and sustain friendships and close personal relationships
- increasing social inclusion and the presence of people with learning disabilities in everyday places, events and activities.
The pandemic changed the way the service offered its support, introducing online channels to keep social gatherings going while restrictions were in place. Many members have talked of isolation during the lockdown periods, and many have been part of a wider ‘shielding’ population asked to take further precautions.
Despite these challenges, Dates-n-mates’ mission very much remained to improve the health and wellbeing of members by ensuring they have opportunities and support to make and sustain friendships and close personal relationships. Dates-n-Mates support also includes helping members to overcome digital exclusion.
From the start of the pandemic, between January 2020 and March 2020, the team delivered face-to-face 12 social events including an open events valentine’s night attended by 78 people (20 members and 58 non-members). Open events were attended by members and non-members, providing opportunities to meet new people and recruit them as members.
Despite an exceptional period, where the delivery model changed quickly in response to the pandemic and members adjusted to interaction via the internet, members remain positive about events and the opportunities to meet new people.
It is also important that members, and all vulnerable adults, understand how to keep themselves safe in the current environment. This has led the team to further develop its training workshops – introducing new ‘safe social media’ and ‘keep safe’ sessions via video call during the pandemic.