I love people! I genuinely do. There are so many inspiring people out there and I love hearing their stories. Don’t get me wrong, I can dislike people too – or more so some of the silly actions people take (especially so in the last couple of weeks, where is our world heading?) – but that’s not what this post is about. This post is about an event I attended which proved that there are lovely people out thire supporting and working hard for other people to have a good life.

Last month, I attended the #LighthouseSpeedFriending event in Cookridge, Leeds. The event was held at the gorgeous Lighthouse Union Store which acts like a café and charity shop and the upstairs also as a classroom (not available to the public). Here, students with autism come to qualify in BTECs and get all the support they need for work placement, internships and further business qualification. The reason I and fellow local bloggers had been invited, was to raise awareness of the charity (all the great work these people do to help people with autism) and also get a feel for the difficulties people with autism might face in daily communications.

Lighthouse Union StoreLighthouse Union Store caféLighthouse Union Store charity shop


Before attending the event, we had all been asked to send a selfie to be used during the evening. On arrival, we could all see the masks had been placed out on the tables. this brings us to the main event. After lovely Katie Parlett, Chair of Trustees, sharing the Light House Union story we where asked to do a speed dating sessions, wearing our masks. The idea behind this exercise was to give us a sense of how people with autism have troubles reading facial expressions and body language.

I think this was a great idea, wearing the mask and trying to read other people only from speech made me realise how much I depend on facial expressions and body language to read a person. It was easier with some of the people that I already know as I can picture in my head how they would act in normal conversation. With people I had never met before it was a lot trickier getting signals of interest so a very good exercise, although I still don’t think we’re close to how someone with autism feel.

LighthouseSpeedFriending event

*image courtesy of Search Laboratory (image on the right)

There’s a video from the event as well which you can watch here. I don’t like standing in front of the camera so I’m happy I’m only in it for a split second. Enjoy!

Raffle and Goody bags

At the end of the evening we all had been entered in a raffle where we could win fab prices from local companies who had kindly donated. I was lucky to have my name drawn (I can no say I sometimes win these sorts of things) and I picked an afternoon tea for two at Jameson’s Café & Tea Rooms.  A huge thank you to Bakery 164, Barbara Mann Dance Studio, Bloom Bakers, Dogburgs, Evolution, Gravity UK, Search Laboratory for also donating raffle prices and towards the lovely goody bags,  to Rollette Café for donating food and refreshments on the night and of course to Search Laboratory and Lighthouse Union Store for such a lovely evening!

LighthouseSpeedFriending goody bag

I’ll definitely go back to Lighthouse Union Store to try our their fresh food (also suitable if you’re vegetarian or vegan) to buy gorgeous interior and kitchen supplies for my new flat and maybe even pick up some more jewellery! I bought a lovely bangle with a star from here which you might have seen it on my Instagram. If I can give something back and support a great charity like this, I will!

If you haven’t been to Lighthouse Union Store yet, make sure to pay them a visit. You won’t be disappointed!

Jennie xx