Friendships and fun are parts of life everyone should have access to. One charity is going the extra mile to help people build confidence, develop relationships, and has formed a second family in the process.
Created over 10 years ago, Love4Life is a group for autistic people and people with learning disabilities to meet, make new friendships and maybe even find love.
Game nights, arts and crafts, cooking classes and first aid workshops are just a few of the exciting events run by the group, and there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
“It’s like an extended family for most people,” explains Shelley Temperley, Love4Life’s events coordinator.
“Some members have said that if it wasn’t for Love4Life, they wouldn’t be going out. It’s safe and there’s no pressure: they can just be themselves and enjoy the activities.”
Members also head out into the community together, visiting restaurants, the theatre, the cinema, bowling lanes, pubs and parties. Members can note their interest on an app, to let the group know who is going.
Not only this, but the group also runs workshops to enhance important life skills, covering topics from money management and health and wellbeing, to travel and sex education.
Taylor Sambrook attends Love4Life, and has been a committed member since 2016.
“I wasn’t sure about it at first, because I was nervous,” admits Taylor. “But, instantly everyone made me feel at home. The best part is making new friends and going out to fun places like the sea-life centre.”
Not only has Taylor found a group of friends she enjoys spending time with, she’s one of the many members who has used the dating service that Love4Life provides.
“I went on my first date not that long ago and we went bowling,” says Taylor. “It just went from there really. We were chaperoned by Love4Life and it’s going well so far; we’ve been for a second date already.”
“We’ve had quite a few within the group who have gone onto date,” enthuses Shelley.
“We chaperone the first three dates in the background. After the three dates, if they want to carry on seeing one another and they’re happy with how the relationship is going, it’s up to them to arrange.
“It’s really lovely, I love being a part of it. It makes a difference to people’s lives and ensures that they feel part of something.”
Love4Life recently reached the 100 members milestone, and is always looking for more people to join their crew.
“People feel that they’re accepted and part of it from day one and it’s
a journey for people to be on,” adds Shelley. “It’s wonderful to see the members’ confidence and social skills grow.”
“Come along and just be yourself and be confident,” urges Taylor. “We’re like a second family.”
For more information about how you can join Love4Life, visit www.fitzroy.org/love4life