A DATING agency which helps disabled people in Renfrewshire find love and friendship is in the running to clinch a £10,000 national lottery award.

Dates-n-Mates, which is run for and by adults with learning disabilities, has beaten off stiff competition from more than 700 organisations to reach the public voting stage in awards celebrating the National Lottery’s 25th Birthday.

Launched in 2015, the organisation helps people with disabilities overcome loneliness and isolation by arranging regular social activities where people can meet, chat and, if they wish, strike up relationships and find love. 

Lesley Miller, project leader for the organisation in Scotland, told The Gazette:

“We are so excited and thrilled to to have been nominated.

“Dates-n-Mates currently have 64 members in Renfrewshire aged 18 and over and we organise between six and eight events a month to give members the chance to get out and about doing different things.

“These include a snooker league, blowing, a club night and simply just going to the pub.”

Lesley added that the branch, which is organised from dates-n-mates’ office in Glasgow, also runs workshops for skills development and members could volunteer as a “friendly face” to introduce new members and explain all about the club activities.

She added: “People with disabilities are a particular risk of social isolation and it is estimated that 80 per cent of people with learning difficulties feel lonely more or less all of the time.

“If they don’t have the chance to work, they cannot get out and about to meet people.”

If successful, dates-n-mates will put the money towards developing a phone app to allow members to make contact, get information about events and find venues.

John Paul Moffat, dates-n-mates’ national director, added: “Adults with learning disabilities just don’t have the same opportunities to meet people - sometimes they only know their families or the people who are paid to care for them.  

“It can be a very lonely and boring life. 

“National Lottery funding has allowed dates-n-mates to offer people the chance to get out and about, make friends and find love – and this absolutely transforms lives.”

Voting is now open and runs until August 21. Go to lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards to cast your vote. 

You can also vote for Dates-n-Mates using #NLAdatesnmates on Twitter. 

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