Mates ‘N’ Dates

Mates ‘N’ Dates is a friendship and dating network (Established over 10 years ago) for adults with learning disabilities living in and around Oxfordshire. We run social events across the county such as coffee mornings, park walks, barn dances, karaoke nights, nightclub events, and even speed dating.

We offer greater opportunities for social activities with the chance of forming friendships or more, in a supported environment.
Mates ‘n’ Dates is based in Witney, but organises a range of social events across Oxfordshire.

“Before I joined Mates ‘n’ Dates I didn’t go out in the evenings unless it was a family occasion, because I have speech problems I found it very hard to make friends. Now I can look forward to going out. It gives me something to look forward to. I made so many friends.”

The project counts over 200 members between the age of 18 and 75 with the large majority attending our various events regularly. Members tell us the project makes a huge difference in their lives; giving them a unique chance to: access a range of experiences they wouldn’t be able to access otherwise, such as meet new people, build trusted friendships, in some cases lasting relationships and marriages. They also feel the project helps them with their confidence and self-esteem. The events are organised in such a way that they no longer feel frightened to go out, unsafe, judged or isolated. Instead they report feeling happier, valued and optimistic about their lives.

This work wouldn’t be possible without the dedicated support of approximately 30 community volunteers who get involved in all aspects of the project (e.g. organisation/promotion members transport and facilitation of self-directed groups).

“Working with adults with learning difficulties really pushed me out of my comfort zone. It challenged my preconceptions about disability and resulted in a complete re-evaluation. It has made me more tolerant and able to cope with everyday life. Seeing the hurdles that some members have to contend with in life is really humbling and makes you appreciate what you have.”

People with learning disabilities want to;

  • Be the same as everybody else. This means they want friends, and maybe a partner too. This is a basic human right, and that is why Mates ‘N’ Dates was created, to help make this a reality for people.
  • Make choices about what they do, where they go, and who they spend time with, just like everyone else does. This is why Mates ‘N’ Dates members tell us what kind of activities they want, and then we help you to do those activities.

We have a team of members, staff, and volunteers, who meet up every other month, to share ideas, and talk about ways to run Mates ‘N’ Dates better.

We hold lots of regular small and big events all across Oxfordshire, to help people find friends, and relationships, if that is what people want. Our members tell us these are their favourite events to come to, because they are so much fun!

  • Social events
  • Pub Nights
  • Meals Out
  • Walks
  • Quiz Nights
  • Picnics
  • Bowling
  • Walks
  • Ladies Night
  • Mingle – LGBTQ group

Music events

  • Annual Ball
  • Barn dance
  • Karaoke
  • Live Music
  • Club Nights

Dating events

  • Relationships workshops
  • Speed Dating
  • Chaperoning Dates


Mingle is a group for adults with learning disabilities who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, cross dress, or just feel ‘different’. The Mingle groups meet every month, running workshops offering members support and the chance to talk. Mingle organises days and evenings out. We attend Pride events.

To join Mates ‘N’ Dates you need to be:

  • Over 18 years old
  • Have a learning disability
  • Live in Oxfordshire

Annual Membership costs £60

If you are interested please email Mark on
Or phone 01993 893583 and ask for Mates ‘n’ Dates and we will answer any questions you have.

If you live outside of Oxfordshire, check the BILD website for other projects in the UK that might be able to help e.g. Supported Loving.

Our Mates ‘N’ Dates members and facilitator planning for the future, January 2019

#YoungPeople #LearningDisability #Carers #Relatives #MentalHealth

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