To some people Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate love, and to others it’s a chance to recognise those meaningful connections in their life, both romantic and platonic. This Valentine’s Day we would like to share a story about a young man living with a disability who launched a social service in 2018, which offers opportunities to meet new friends and form new connections and relationships in a safe and inclusive environment.
Joshua Perry is just like any other young kiwi guy, he’s friendly, social and confident. Joshua, who’s known as Josh or JP by friends is young man living in Dunedin who has Cerebral Palsy. Josh was born in Canterbury and moved to Dunedin after the earth quakes where he studied at Otago Polytechnic, completing a Diploma in Marketing and Communications. Whilst being a student he became “the first wheel-chair bound model to drive down the catwalk at New Zealand Fashion Week in 2011”.
Josh is well connected with other members of the NZ Disability community and after hearing a need for more social inclusive opportunities for people with a disability to meet others he put his marketing and innovative mind to use. JP is on a mission to remove barriers and build individuals confidence in finding connections, whether it be for friendships or love! With the help of his mother, a Disability Studies Lecturer and Advocate, Josh formed Enabling Love. A social initiative that he says “is run for people with disabilities by people living with a disability. We understand the challenges of meeting others through dating sites and decided to set up our inclusive service in 2018. We aim to provide a safe environment for individuals to meet new friends and form new connections and relationships”. Enabling Love received local support to get the entrepreneurial venture off the ground from collaborative work space Innov8HQ Dunedin, check out the awesome launch event here.
Enabling Love runs a website that hosts an introduction service and is complemented by the running of various social events, for example cocktail parties, speed dating, movie nights and more! Through Enabling Love events and the sites profile matching system numerous friendships have been created and two couples have formed.
Josh dreams of taking the Enabling Love service to the next step, pairing up with his old tertiary institute, Otago Polytechnic, to create an App which he hopes will be up and running by 2020/2021. In the meantime he is working with a number of Disability Agencies throughout New Zealand to gather support and is focusing on getting Dating Education Courses launched this year. Josh says that “it is vital that we keep doing the work that we are doing to try and address social needs when it comes to people with disabilities, and inclusion when it comes to dating and socialising, so that we can all feel part of society.”
The Enabling Love and Friendship service is open to anyone who is looking for friendship/love, you don’t have to have a disability but you must be open to creating friendships and relationships with people with a disability. Josh feels that the Enabling Love has “a direct responsibility to ensure that we mainstream disabled people whenever possible, and that’s why we have opened up the dating service to anyone who is looking for love/friendship and they don’t have to be disabled”.
If you’d like to participate in an Enabling Love event or find out more you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out their Facebook page where they advertise their social events here.
If you require support to attend an event give our Customer Engagement team a call on 0800 677 700 or email email@example.com and we can help you find the perfect person to support you in attending social events.