Looking for love with Star Dating

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When you’re single, the thought of going on dates can be quite scary.
But when you suffer from a learning disability and are dependent on your carers, the concept of dating is even more out of reach.

However, one organisation in Thurrock is hoping to change all that.
BATIAS (Basildon and Thurrock Independent Advocacy Services) have launched a new dating service called ‘Star Dating’, to help those with learning disabilities to find that special someone.

But Star Dating isn’t a simple match making service – it’s about educating and giving people their own independent voice to find love on their own terms.

“No matter how profound or mild someone’s disability may be, everyone has the right to a meaningful relationship,” says Tabatha Mills, the facilitator for Star Dating. “There won’t be any pressure at all for ‘Gill and Dave’ to date, but through support and practice, we hope to help them find a companion.”

Funded by the Thurrock Learning Disability Development Fund, BATIAS were first inspired to set up the service after they were inundated with calls following Channel 4’s show The Undateables – a programme which followed the difficulties that people with disabilities face when dating.

“People with learning disabilities may have been discouraged by their carers to form a relationship because it might have been too complicated to explain,” says Tabatha. “So we’re here to explain everything through workshops and practice dates.

“We practice conversation skills, paying for the meal at the end of the night and basic appropriate behaviour. At the moment, we work with people specifically from the Thurrock area, although we’re hoping the scheme will go wider.”

For more information about Star Dating in Thurrock, visit batias.com.

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