A Wigan charity supporting people with disabilities has revealed how it is helping its members find love.
Embrace Wigan and Leigh launched its All We Need Is Love project earlier this year after scooping a £25,000 grant from the Aviva Community Fund in February 2019.
The initiative covers all the bases when it comes to the daunting world of modern dating, including one-to-one mentoring and matchmaking service, singles nights and online safety guidance.
Project coordinator Nicole Robertson explained how the project was born, and why it was important to open it up to people without disabilities.
“Our projects depends on what our users want,” she said.
“Myself and my colleague Beth were working on a project called Let’s Connect, which helped reduce social isolation.
“From that, a lot of people were chatting, and said relationships and dating was a big thing they were finding to be a stumbling block.
“Meeting new people and maintaining that connection.
“They were saying they’d love support in the dating world.
“We did a bit of research to see if anything similar was happening across the country.
“What we found was that there were a few across the country, but they all needed you to have a diagnosis like autism to qualify.
“A lot of people we work with here wouldn’t identify as having any disability.
“So we decided to set up an inclusive dating agency for anyone who needs the support, not just for disabled people. It could be a more complex issue, or they could just be nervous and need a friendly face to help them.
“We looked at different funding options, that’s when we applied for Aviva funding.
“It was a massive national competition, so we didn’t think we’d get very far.”
But the team were indeed successful in securing the funds, which resulted in a visit from Aviva ambassador Reggie Yates.
Nicole said: “It enabled us to have a launch night which was amazing, about 220 people came.
“That was our way of letting everyone know what we were doing and clarifying that it was open to anyone.
“Embrace traditionally support people with disabilities but the dating agency is for anyone.”
To find out more about All We Need Is Love, visit embracewigandleigh.org.uk/love