Hayley Ostler, 29, runs a project where she plays Cupid to those who need a little help in the romance department…. Sitting on the edge of the sofa, I watched the young couple on TV. As they ate ice cream and made nervous small talk, I rooted for them. And when they later swapped numbers and kissed goodbye, I beamed with pride. As a matchmaker for people with learning disabilities, I regularly help would-be boyfriends and girlfriends, like Luke and Alice, find love. That episode showed me phoning Luke, a member of the dating project I run, to suggest a date with Alice, also a member. After I showed them to their table, then sat at the other end of the restaurant in case they needed me, there were a few awkward silences.
Stars in the Sky is a dating agency for people with learning difficulties. It's a good story, but it's also a great idea. Spreading the idea, however - helping people with learning difficulties to find love - is harder.
The enterprise grew from one woman's desire for love. Haringey Association for Independent Living Hail. The offer is a mixture of parties to bring groups together and matched dates, discreetly chaperoned. When things are going well, clients are left to get on with their lives together. But Stars in the Sky remains in the background, offering help and advice should things get rocky. Demand for the service has grown quickly and the project is now a popular success, with more than members across London.
Naturally, there are risks - that their clients might be abusive or abused - but Stars in the Sky are proving they can be managed. The agency is now looking to grow. There are franchises, backed with local authority funding, starting in Birmingham, Essex, Leeds and the Isle of Wight. However, each territory is hard won.
Kind-hearted woman set up dating agency to help people with learning disabilities find love
Asked why the agency caters only for those with learning disabilities, its administrator, Lydia Jones, said: The disability charity Mencap worries that the packaging of The Undateables could "be seen to do more harm than good", portraying people with disabilities in an "unflattering" way.
But all the participants in the show who spoke to the Independent on Sunday were happy with it. Justin Coling, 39, has a facial disfigurement, and was seen as one of the most "challenging" dating assignments on the programme.
He says of the title: But this little controversial headline means people go to the website, write and talk about it. You can bet your bottom dollar they'll be watching it.
Stars dating agency undateables
I'm not looking for sympathy - there have just been extra challenges. Sign into your NZ Herald. On the go and no time to finish that story right now?
Your News is the place for you to save content to read later from any device. Register with us and content you save will appear here so you can access them to read later. The staff are here whenever I need them. Stars in the Sky normally runs 10 social events a month, from discos to bowling nights to advice workshops.
I started a dating agency so my autisic son could find love
It was really good, quite emotional, but really nice. That was definitely my best outing with Stars in the Sky. Some people just join up to socialise. She also comes here, we met through college last January.
Ian, on the other hand, would like to meet a girlfriend through the service. Stars in the Sky meets all the new members face to face and people have to be referred to the charity, through a social worker, doctor or other professional.The Undateables S04E02 Tim Ali and Alec
Go online and visit starsintheskyhants.