Guideposts - Mates 'N' Dates

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What is Mates 'n' Dates?

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.

People with learning disabilities want to 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, called a committee, who meet up every other month, to share ideas, and talk about ways to run Mates ‘n’ Dates better.

Mates ‘n’ Dates has now been open for 8 years, and has over 350 members. Read more about how Mates ‘n’ Dates began here.

Mates ‘n’ Dates holds lots of regular small and big events all across Oxfordshire, to help people find friends, and a relationship, if that is what people want. Our members tell us these are their favourite events to come to, because they are so much fun!

Some of the small events we run:

* Karaoke nights             * Meals to restaurants
* Singles nights               * Speed dating
* Picnics                            * Bowling
* Walks                              * Quiz nights             


Some of the big events we run:

* Big annual Ball
* A gig night in Oxford
* Barn dance

Who to contact

Contact Name
Kelly Gough
Contact Position
Mates 'N' Dates Coordinator & Community Opportunities Service Manager
01993 893560 01993 893560 Head Office - 01993 893560 Head Office - 01993 893560
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Join Mates 'n' Dates

To join Mates ‘n’ Dates you need to be over 18 years old, live in Oxfordshire and have a learning disability.

Mates ‘n’ Dates costs £20 for a years membership.

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

We will arrange to come out and complete an application form with you – so we can find out more about you and you can learn more about Mates ‘n’ Dates.

Once you are a member of Mates ‘n’ Dates you will receive regular newsletters and be invited to dates and events.

Information on staying safe

We want our members to have fun in a way that is safe. We have put together some advice on how to do this on the right hand side.

Mates 'n' Dates Mingle Group

Mingle is a group for adults with learning disabilities who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or cross dress.

The Mingle groups meet every month, running workshops offering members support and the chance to talk.

This year Mingle members attended both ‘Oxford Pride’ and ‘Birmingham Pride’ events.

Where to go

Guideposts Trust
Unit E, Two Rivers
Station Lane
OX28 4BH
View OX28 4BH on a map

Events are held across Oxfordshire


Varies  Per session
£20 Subscription Fee 


Referral required
Referral Details

Mates 'n' Dates: Information for Professionals

What is Mates 'n' Dates?

Guideposts’ Mates ‘n’ Dates service, based in Oxfordshire, is a specialist dating and friendship service for anyone over 18yrs, diagnosed with a learning disability. We provide opportunities to reduce social isolation and loneliness through structured social events and chaperoned dates.

The Service has been running since October 2007. Set up originally through a collaboration of Psychologists and local providers, and is now solely supported by Guideposts. The service has a planning and advisory committee which includes stakeholders such as: member representatives, volunteers, staff and other local providers.

How does it work?

The service has a membership fee of £20 annually. We provide transport to those that require it (with a voluntary contribution towards petrol), and rely heavily on volunteers to support the service.

The service is purely social, and we do not provide any kind of personal care, only support and monitoring where needed.

The service is increasingly promoting member involvement. The current schedule of activities is shaped by members’ feedback, and agreed by the committee. We run, as well as collaborate in running, a wide range of events and dating opportunities throughout the year to include: an annual ball, an annual barn dance, speed dating sessions across Oxfordshire, night clubs and singles nights, one-to-one chaperoned dates, an LGBT group, a ladies group, karaoke. These are run from a range of sympathetic establishments and some in conjunction other pro groups and advocacy groups (such as My Life My Choice).

Who gets involved?

Member numbers at events average at 10-20 at smaller events, while our ball last year attracted a total of 185, with members and volunteers. Historically attendance has steadily increased and there is never a shortage of demand for the service.

Where do events takes place?

Our Members come from all across Oxfordshire, although we do not restrict membership to the one county. Some of our members come from just outside our Oxfordshire borders, and so long as an individual can find suitable transport, we generally don’t turn anyone away.

How does the application process work?

The only criteria for an application or referral, is that the individual is over 18, has a learning disability, and is able to reach us geographically. We accept any kind of referral including self-referral.

The application process involves:

* An initial meeting to discuss the individual’s needs and wishes;
* An application form, that includes an agreement around acceptable behavior;
* A referee process, whereby we will conduct some safety checks, including asking for a declaration on any history of involvement with the police, in particular violence or sexual harassment.

Got a question?

If you have any questions or ideas for us, we always welcome your input, and will do our best to help.

Additional Information

Providing services to
Disabled children/young people
Supporting people with
Learning difficulty


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Record managed by Oxfordshire Family Information Service

This information has been collected from third party providers and Oxfordshire County Council cannot accept responsibility for the accuracy of the information nor does inclusion represent a recommendation or an endorsement. Parents, carers, young people and professionals are recommended to check that organisations and services are appropriate and safe before they attend.
See: Help on how to choose services safely

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