Cambridgeshire dating agency continues vital work through lockdown thanks to national lottery funding
- Credit: Archant
A friendship and dating agency for those living with autism and other learning difficulties in Cambridgeshire has received thousands of pounds to help continue its work through the coronavirus pandemic.
Safe Soulmate has pocketed more than £23,000 of national lottery funding to ensure loneliness and social isolation during the lockdown is minimised.
The funding, awarded by the national lottery community fund, will allow the charity to continue its support programme, including mate and date matches, meeting prospective members and providing information and guidance.
Vicky Baddeley, who founded Safe Soulmate with close friend Christine O’Neil last year, said: “We are immensely grateful to the National Lottery for its continued support, particularly through this very difficult time.
“Without the funding, we would not be able to continue and so many more people would lose hope of ever finding those vital connections we all need.”
Since the lockdown began, staff and volunteers have been working hard to provide online support and social opportunities for its members, or ‘soulmates’, particularly for people with additional needs living alone.
Lizzie is a ‘soulmate’, as well as a member of the organisation’s steering group, and was key to setting up the charity.
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She said: “I really enjoy being part of Safe Soulmate and being part of something that allows you to be yourself and develops you as a person.
“Safe Soulmate has helped me with my self-confidence, to try new things and make new friendships. It’s been even more beneficial during lockdown to make and talk to friends via Zoom socials in the comfort of your own home.”
The funding comes during Loneliness Awareness Week, an annual event which raises awareness of loneliness and aims to encourage people to talk about the issue.
One person to benefit from Safe Soulmate‘s work is Ollie Wright, who was meant to take on a 56-mile bike ride to raise money for the charity but will soon take on the route accompanied by a volunteer.
The charity, which is one of more than 400 projects tackling loneliness and social isolation funded by The National Lottery since lockdown began, is also planning to run a ‘fitness bootcamp’ to keep people fit and active while at home.
Helen Bushell, head of funding for south east at the national lottery community fund, said: “The groups we fund are a powerful force for good, supporting people to connect, reducing feelings of isolation and helping communities come together in new and inspiring ways.”
For more information on Safe Soulmate, visit https://www.safesoulmate.org.uk/.