Mates 'n' Dates is a Friendship and Leisure Project established over 10 years ago to give adults with learning disabilities living in and around Oxfordshire greater access to leisure activities which most of us take for granted and a better social life, with the chance of forming friendships or more, in a safe and supportive environment.

Mates 'n' Dates is based in Witney, but organises a range of social events across the County, ranging from coffee mornings and park walks to barn dances, karaoke nights, nightclub events, or even speed dating. Mates 'n' Dates also facilitate various groups such as OX18, the Under 35, Women Only and LGBT groups.

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. Member

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 partnerships. 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. Volunteer

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 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 better to tell you about Mates 'n' Dates than the members themselves?


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 Pride events.

To join Mates ‘n’ Dates or Mingle

You need to be over 18 years old, live in Oxfordshire and have a learning disability.
Mates ‘n’ Dates costs £60 for a years membership.
If you are interested please email [email protected]
Or phone 01993 893583 and ask for Mates ‘n’ Dates and we will answer any questions you have.
If you are a Professional and would like more information about Mates 'n' Dates please click here.