The National Learning Disabilities & Autism Awards are delighted to announce this year’s charity is FitRoy’s Love4Life Project.

FitzRoy, a Petersfield-based national charity supporting people with disabilities, has launched a big fundraising campaign – Love4Life – to raise £74,000 to save a vital project in Hampshire that supports people with disabilities stay safe when they go out, meet people online, and look for love.

Over the last few years, Stars in the Sky, a dynamic, volunteer-driven, grassroots organisation has been living hand to mouth as it has seen its funding go down and down. They approached FitzRoy to see if they could save them, and FitzRoy couldn’t let all the people who rely on the service, go back to a life of isolation, despair and fear.

Anna Galliford, Chief Executive at FitzRoy, said: “We’re setting up Love4Life to fundraise to save Stars in the Sky, as it does a vital job preventing loneliness and helping people with disabilities find love and enjoy life. The sad reality is that for many people with learning disabilities the chance of finding love is impossible because they face abuse and harm when going out, or using online dating services. Because of this they can end up lonely and isolated.

Saving this project helps us address the concerns parents of people with disabilities revealed for our latest report, recently published, “Who will care after I’ve gone?”. Parents expressed deep concern about their grown up children who had no one to share their lives with and few opportunities to find meaningful relationships outside of the immediate family.”

Volunteer at Stars in the Sky, Mark Foster, said: “This project is the reason a quiet lonely man or woman with mental health issues leaves the relative security of their bedroom. It is the reason they brave public transport knowing they will likely be stared at or whispered about. The reason they step out of their comfort zone. It gives them the very thing that we all crave. Friends. Understanding. Warmth. Love, and a feeling of belonging. The few hours at each event is a time to share problems with people who are going through the same thing. They can share their thoughts without fear of being judged, laughed at or looked down upon.

This feeling of being wanted and belonging to something outside of their bedroom is the foundations on which they grow and develop. Once they realise they have that support around them they soon find their voice, express their ideas and push their own boundaries. Their confidence grows and the natural progression is to improve other areas of their lives. Employment, Relationships. Suddenly the possibilities are endless and all because they have that foundation of support and encouragement which this project helps to provide.”

Anna Gailsford continued: “It is a great honour that FitzRoy’s Love4Life project is being supported by the Learning Disability Awards. The awards highlight what a passionate and innovative sector we are; with many organisations on a mission to end loneliness and create life opportunities for people with learning disabilities at any age. By supporting our campaign the Learning Disability Awards will highlight the discrimination and loneliness many are still facing, and help us to put an end it.”

To watch the video and for more information about the campaign visit: http://www.fitzroy.org/Love4LifeFitzroy Logos 2014_Fitzroy Logo Blue