Stage Beyond plays Cupid with dating event for adults with learning disabilities
An award-winning Derry-based charity organisation is hosting a unique event in the city next week aimed at helping adults with learning disabilities find their soulmates.
Stage Beyond, the Millennium Forum’s resident theatre company for adults with learning disabilities supported by National Lottery funding through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, is staging a ‘Summer Lovin’ speed dating style event with participants all required to register in advance.
Jean Dunn, lead drama facilitator with Stage Beyond and event co-ordinator, explained that while romance will be in the air, the main aim is to provide an opportunity for adults with learning disabilities to introduce themselves to each other in a safe and relaxed new setting.
The organisers are pulling out all the stops for the event which takes place on Tuesday, August 30, including re-creating some elements of popular TV show ‘First Dates’.
Stage Beyond have exclusive use of the Millennium Forum’s in-house restaurant area for the event which will be set up in style for participants to meet up across a candlelit table for several minutes at a time and possibly find ‘the spark’.
The two-hour daytime event will have its very own maître d' and soft drinks will be provided on arrival as light refreshments.
Stage Beyond staff will oversee the entire event and there will be an option for participants to exchange contact details by mutual consent afterwards through the organisers.
Jean explained: “We have had a really positive response to our latest initiative which we believe is the first event of its kind in the North West organised especially for adults with learning disabilities.
"We would encourage anyone wishing to participate in the ‘Summer Lovin’ event either on an individual basis or through attending their own learning disability organisations, to register with us as soon as possible as places are limited.
“We are looking forward to welcoming all the participants and carers to the Forum next Tuesday for what we hope to be the first of many similar networking events Stage Beyond will host in addition to our main theatre productions.
"All the necessary protocols will be in place to make this an enjoyable and inclusive new experience for everyone involved. We will be taking important feedback from both our own participating company members and guests following the event to help us build on the initiative going forward.”
Bernie Shiels, one of Stage Beyond’s longest serving members who is also Chair of the Board, encouraged local adults with a learning difficulty interested in making new friendships, to sign up for the event without delay to avoid disappointment.
“Come along and make more friendships. It promises to be a fun event to finish up the summer before going back to our usual routines.
"Stage Beyond events are always a great success and we are proud to be leading the way once again, offering new opportunities for people with learning disabilities to meet socially outside of their usual friendship groups and organisations they attend. And you just never know, you could find a potential new soulmate too.”