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Sweden has just got its first dating and community site for disabled people

Date: 2007-02-23

The site's founder, 25-year-old Robert Öijvall, came up with the idea after attending a course on disability in the eastern town of Uppsala.

"I have a minor disability myself. One of my feet is artificial. So I have some first-hand experience as well as having worked as a personal assistant for a number of years," Öijvall told The Local.
He currently works with a man who suffered brain damage in an accident which also claimed his wife's life.

"My client has talked a lot about the difficulty of meeting someone new and making new friends," said Öijvall.

When the pair attended a course together in Uppsala the issue reared its head again.

"Towards the end, somebody asked if there was anything else we had left out. One woman just said straight out: sex and relationships. There were about 20 of us there and we all started discussing the issue," said Öijvall.

On the way home from the course they talked about the lack of a targeted dating site for disabled people in Sweden. Öijvall decided to set the wheels in motion.

"When people heard I was putting the site together they were very positive. And since the site launched there has been enormous interest," he said.

The site, called klubbFH has only been in existence for two days but already there are around 1,000 registered users.

"Lots of people have mentioned in their profiles how glad they are that I have set this up.

"But there will always be somebody ready to find fault and the site has already been criticised by an organisation for disabled people on the grounds that it promotes segregation.

"My response is that everybody is welcome to sign up, not just disabled people," said Öijvall.

In addition to the community section, users are also encouraged to pose questions to a panel of experts consisting of a physiotherapist, a counsellor and an expert on sex and relationships.

Robert Öijvall is so enthused by the reaction so far that he is already hatching plans to expand the concept to other countries in the Nordic region.

Paul O'Mahony

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