As part of Learning Disability Awareness week 2017, we have collected good news stories from our members. Here, United URResponse share the story of the heartwarming story of Nathan and Ria.

We are heading over to St Anne’s in Lancashire today to meet Nathan and Ria – a couple in their early 30s who took the bold step just 6 weeks ago to move in together. They have been a couple for 5 years and have been engaged for 3 now. Moving in together was the next natural step for them both…

We ask Nathan and Ria how their love story began. Nathan laughs saying: “Where do I start!? We have known each other since school. After school we both went to Blackpool College, I did an NVQ in Bakery and Ria did a catering course. After I added her on Facebook, I finally got the courage to ask her out on a date. Our first date was at the Old Sandhills pub in St Annes. We then went to the pub once a week, every week to see each other.

Nathan tells us about the big proposal in 2013: “Well, it was a big surprise for Ria. She did not know anything about it! It was a Saturday night in the Old Sandhills pub and we were watching a local band called The Rockets. When the band took a break, I got up on stage and took the microphone. I asked Ria to marry me in front of the whole audience!” Ria said, “I couldn’t believe it at first. I thought it was a joke. But once I knew he was serious I said yes straight away!”

The process of moving in together has been approached in a way that suits both Nathan and Ria. Ria first started by staying over at Nathan’s house once a week on a Friday night, and the sleep in support for that night was removed. As things were working well, it was increased to more nights together with no sleep ins. Nathan, Ria and the staff team had regular meetings with social workers to review progress. Their independence has grown so much that their support hours have reduced from 24/7 to just 6 hours a day from next January.

Nathan says honestly that he was a bit unsure at first when Ria moved in, “it took me a while to get used to giving up my personal space but I am used to it now. We have our own routine where I do the ironing and Ria does the washing up. We both cook together.” Sounds like domestic bliss!

This story is so special because of the tremendous amount of support from United Response that has supported, backed and nurtured the relationship. The support team have developed Nathan and Ria’s confidence, maturity and self-esteem. Alec, Nathan’s support worker, says that the staff team are “bursting with pride with the success of the move and their relationship.”

When we ask them what life is like now, they both say they have “the perfect life.” What an incredible achievement. And how can you top that?