Why Our Human Rights Act Matters... to dates-n-mates members Dates-n-Mates are Scotland’s national friendship and dating agency run by and for people with learning disabilities. They are a project of C-Change Scotland with branches in Glasgow, Renfrewshire, Aberdeen and Falkirk. They are influenced by their member’s ideas and preferences to facilitate opportunities for meaningful friendships and relationships to be created, confidence to grow and social isolation to be reduced. With over ten years’ experience connecting people with learning disabilities in a fun and inclusive environment, they believe it is people’s right to live life free of discrimination and to develop relationships of their choosing, to love and be loved. At Dates-n-Mates Scotland our work is underpinned by a human rights-based approach in everything that we do. We believe it is every person’s right to live life free of discrimination and to develop friendships and relationships of their choosing, to love and be loved. Human rights are for everyone. Friendships and relationships are for everyone. The British Institute of Human Rights delivered an insightful workshop to our project earlier this year where those we work for (adults with learning disabilities) were able to gain a deeper understanding of human rights. We discussed the Human Rights Act and what we can do if we feel our rights are not respected. Unfortunately, something some of our members could relate to as they have at times experienced their rights and decisions not being fully considered. One member, Liz said “In a meeting a few years ago, I was told I had no rights and they made me change my support services. I ended up going to 3 different services before I got the right support that I needed… it nearly broke me!” The workshop focused on the right to respect private and family life, home, and correspondence. This is a key human right that we stand to respect and champion for people with learning disabilities. Sarah shared her thoughts; “Human rights especially in relation to relationships and a private life are important to me because we deserve to be treated equally with fairness, acceptance, and respect. It’s very important to have people in your life who will not only listen but help and guide you in the right direction. It’s important to live a private life without dealing with any form of interference. When that happens, it makes it harder to live a normal and happy life.” And we all want a happy life, whatever that may mean to us. A life and people in it that allow us to be involved in the decisions that matter to us. A life where our basic human rights and needs are respected. John says that Human rights are important to him and “Making you own decisions are important. A lot of people with learning disabilities don’t always get to make their own decisions in life, which is not fair and not right. We all have the right to speech (freedom of expression)”. The Human Rights Act provides a valuable system for people to ensure their rights are respected, protected, and fulfilled. Something which is extremely important to everyone but especially those who are often overlooked, discriminated, and have decisions made for them. Dates-n-Mates will continue to take a human rights-based approach in our work and share the message of how the Human Rights Act can support people with learning disabilities in the UK.