Tenfold member Luv2MeetU won the Making a Difference category at the Tenfold Awards 2015.

Marketing and Promotion Co-ordinator Jenny Sellers tells us about Luv2MeetU.

Describe Luv2meetU in a paragraph.
Luv2meetU is a friendship and dating agency for adults with a learning disability and/or autism, providing opportunities for our members to make new friends, share interests and develop relationships. Our work addresses the problems of isolation and exclusion for people with learning disabilities and gives people the opportunity to increase their social networks, friendships and relationships and develops the sense of well-being that comes from these.

We are committed to people with learning disabilities and autism having the opportunity to develop and sustain friendships and relationships with people of their own choice.

What is the background of Luv2meetU?
Luv2meetU was launched in 2007 and was initially called Stars in the Sky Yorkshire. It was set up following research undertaken in Leeds that identified that many people with learning disabilities did not have the same opportunities to develop friendships and relationships as the general population. The people consulted as part of the research liked the idea of setting up a Friendship and Dating agency similar to one operating in London, called Stars in the Sky.

In 2010, Stars in the Sky Yorkshire became Luv2meetU and was registered as a Community Interest Company and subsidiary of Hft. This means we can apply for local funding. It also means we have our own board of directors, which is now more than 50% Luv2meetU members, who take key decisions on the way Luv2meetU runs and develops

Luv2meetU is currently funded by the Big Lottery Fund, Local Authority Grant aid and fundraised income via Hft.

What services do you provide?
Luv2meetU offers its members regular social and activity-based events in mainstream venues in their local area. We currently operate in Leeds, Wakefield, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Sheffield and North East Derbyshire and will soon have a branch in Cheshire.

We give our members the opportunity to meet a wide group of people and everyone is supported to make friends, maintain positive friendships and build relationships within their local communities.

The events are run based on the needs and wishes of Luv2meetU members; members help to plan the events and we run events at varying times, including events and weekends, meaning there is something for everyone. Not only does Luv2meetUprovide fun social events, we also provide the support and structure to help members gain the confidence and knowledge to sustain and develop friendships and relationships themselves.

Staff and volunteers provide support to members in many ways to help them become more independent. This includes supporting them to travel to and from events on public transport (including to places outside of the local area), supporting people to interact socially, help with reading/writing and support with other practical tasks. We also offer workshops on personal safety, relationships and sexual health to name but a few, which are run in partnership with other organisations.

Who is on the team?
We have an ever-growing team, including a Project Development Worker (PDW) in each area we cover to run events and aid the development of the project. Some of our PDWs also have Project Events Assistants to help with events.

There is a Project Administrator, Administrative Assistant, as well as a Project Development Manager and the Project Director, who oversees staff from other projects such as HumTum and Homefinder and my role is Marketing and Promotion Co-ordinator.

Alongside paid staff have a fantastic group of volunteers in each area who really help us extend the service we offer by running social events every month and chaperoning one-to-one dates between members.

What is the best thing about your job?
It’s hard to choose just one thing, because it’s so varied! I’d say it’s the opportunity to be involved in projects and events that are helping Luv2meetU develop and expand. I think it’s such an important service as we are really contributing to the wellbeing of our members, so being a part of our development makes me really proud.

I really enjoyed being a part of our first ever conference on 14 July 2015 – it was hectic but a fantastic day attend by people from across the country from London to Glasgow!

What is the most challenging thing about your job?
Making initial links with organisations to do partnership work. Most organisations are really receptive to what we do, which is great! However, some people are not and it’s a fact we accept-one size certainly doesn’t fit all.

If you had a super-power what would it be and why?
The ability to teleport. Think of how much I could get done with my week!

If you could give someone you know an award, who would it be and why would they deserve it?
I would give every single staff member, board member and volunteer of Luv2meetU an award. Everyone works so hard to keep Luv2meetU running and they all go above and beyond to support our members and aid the development of Luv2meetU. They’re also a fantastic bunch of people to work with and incredibly supportive of myself and one another.




August 2015