A DAD-OF-TWO has launched an events group for people with learning difficulties and autism after learning of isolation.

Darlington Unlimited, an organisation that will run events for people with learning difficulties and autism, is hosting its first £1 disco on March 13 to get vulnerable and dependent people out and socialising.

Founded by special needs teacher Luke Scarr, 28, the initiative has been “years in the making” after Mr Scarr began working in schools aged 18.

“It was different world, seeing these people live such hard lives,” he said.

“That’s where I really found my passion. I spend a lot of time with my students through the week and ask them what they are doing in their free time or over the weekend, and most just sit at home on their Xbox.

“That shouldn’t be happening. I can tell they’re a bit gutted. Some parents are good, but others can’t take their children out. There are other activities people can go to but they often have huge waiting lists. I want people to be able to just turn up.”

For the pay-a-pound disco, which starts at 6.45pm at Darlington and Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, they can do just that. Turn up and pay £1 to join in, while carers and guardians can attend for free.

Other plans for Darlington Unlimited include exercise classes, sports, dance lessons, arts and crafts and even a silent disco.

Mr Scarr, who is trained to work with young people and has a certificate in mental health awareness, already has a sports coach and dance teacher on board, but needs to secure funding for hiring spaces and buying resources. For example, silent disco headphones will cost £100, for 50.

“I kind of expected to just get a few likes from family and friends when I set up the Facebook page, but now I have close to 600. It’s overwhelming in a good way; the reaction is reinforcing,” he said.

"People have messaged asking if they can volunteer and others have said how pleased they are to see something like this because their kid is going through a really difficult time right now.”

The teacher has long been encouraging students to be more sociable, organising for “more independent" people to take friends out to town and the cinema.

He added: “We did it recently with a student of mine, his life is his Xbox even though he is quote social. They went to see the new Jumanji. When he came into school on Monday, he had the biggest smile on his face. You would not think that it is that big of a deal for them it is life changing.”

There is also to be a walk around South Park ahead of the event, because “it’s the hardest thing in the world sometimes for them to see so many new faces” – offering attendees an introduction to each other and giving parents peace of mind. 

Find out more about the project at facebook.com/UnlimitedDarlington/