Good Causes

Early Valentine’s Day for couple matched by National Lottery-funded project

Michael Prestage and Anna Hind celebrated Valentine’s Day early this year with a romantic trip to a funfair on 11th February 2023.

Anna, 22, said, “We bought Valentine’s gifts for each other which made the experience even better. Michael is a real gentleman – one of the kindest boyfriends you’ll ever meet.”

Anna was introduced to 29-year-old Michael by Meet ‘N’ Match, a friendship and dating agency for people with autism and learning disabilities in North West England. The agency, which is run by National Lottery-funded Spring into Action CIC, carefully matches prospective partners and potential friends and assigns them a trained chaperone to ensure their first date or get-together goes smoothly.

The chaperones meet the couple on the day and check how each of them are feeling. During the date or get-together they mostly sit unobtrusively at another table, but are on hand if help is required with practical issues such as reading menus and counting out money. Chaperones can also assist with emotional issues such as what to talk about and what to do next.

Michael, who has a learning disability and Anna, who is autistic, had their first date in August 2022. They went ten pin bowling in Blackburn followed by a meal at a pizza restaurant.

For Michael, Anna is special. He said, “I love her personality. She likes it when I call her beautiful and stuff like that. It makes her smile.”

The opportunity to spend time with his new girlfriend saw Michael stepping out of his comfort zone recently and taking 2 trains to get from his home in Accrington to Lancaster where Anna lives with her mother, Carol.

He said, “It was the first time I’d been to Lancaster on a train on my own. But I managed because I’m in love.”

Anna clearly feels the same way about Michael. She said, “He is very kind and considerate. He respects me even when I feel sad or upset. He’s very affectionate and that’s another thing I love about him.

"Michael is very understanding and accepts me, which is what everyone should look for in a boyfriend, because a kind personality really matters.”

13th February 2023

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