Umbrella FREE training and learning sessions to support healthy friendships and relationships updated for Spring Term


Changes to Umbrella


Read the easy read version.


We have decided to keep running the Umbrella project but will make changes so more people can access help and support.


We will also look for more funding to help support the project.


Umbrella will no longer provide a matching service.


You will not need to be a member to access education sessions or attend social events.


How will these changes affect you?


Good news! You can now attend any of the education sessions.

If you have any questions about these changes to Umbrella, please contact: Andrea McCombie, 01344 266899 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




The Umbrella project was started in 2012 to help people with learning disabilities, autism and acquired brain injury make friends and relationships.


What made Umbrella different from other projects was the education it provided and the people using the service helped to plan it.


Since 2014 the only funding (money) The Ark receives to run Umbrella is from the £10 yearly membership fee from people using Umbrella.


At the moment when a person joins Umbrella they must have an interview, provide references and attend education sessions before they can be matched with other members.


Umbrella also plans social events for members which are low cost and subsidised (some of the cost is paid for by The Ark).




The £10 membership fee does not cover the cost of joining Umbrella – The cost of the interview and getting references costs between £50 and £75.


One of the references must be provided by a health and social care professional which excludes people who do not receive support or do not often see someone, such as a doctor, about their condition.


Some professionals do not like, or are unable, to provide references and this can delay membership.


More men than women join; a problem with many dating services.


Waiting until there are enough people to run an education session can cause frustration for members.


Some members focus on the dating only and do not attend the social events which are good opportunities to meet new friends and potential partners.




People tell us that help and support to make friendships and relationships is important to them.


The education sessions have really helped people.


Some people have found someone special with Umbrella’s help.



phone image01344 266899 email image

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The Ark Trust Ltd
The Space
20-21 Market Street
RG12 1JG