Hampshire-based learning disability charity FitzRoy has been awarded a grant of over £225,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund to continue to run its Love4Life friendship and dating project for people with learning disabilities and autism.
Love4Life currently has 130 members who meet up, make friends, experience new activities, and find love.
FitzRoy relies on fundraising to keep Love4Life running and thanks to the National Lottery’s Reaching Communities grant, the project is now secure for three years.
Love4Life manager Hayley Ostler-Noland said: “The impact of coronavirus and lockdown has reinforced how vital Love4Life is – not just for making friends and widening social circles, but also for people’s mental health and support networks. This funding really is a lifeline.”
With the core funding secured, Love4Life can focus its fundraising efforts on expanding into other areas, and on building its long-term viability.
Ostler-Noland continued: “Demand for Love4Life membership is increasing, we are getting requests from across the South East and we don’t want anyone to miss out. We are appealing for people, businesses and community groups who would like to support Love4Life to get in touch.”
Helen Bushell, Head of Regional Funding for London, the South East and East of England at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “Throughout the pandemic we’ve seen communities suffer from loneliness and isolation; it’s therefore heartening to see organisations like FitzRoy building connections in their community. We’re delighted to support their mission to help people with learning disabilities and autism make friends and find love.”
Love4Life member Alex said: “It’s been a transformation, from feeling very lonely and isolated to feeling like I’ve got everything I’ve ever dreamed of.”