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Barking project worker brings singletons event to ‘give a damn’ about this Valentine’s

PUBLISHED: 16:04 12 February 2015 | UPDATED: 16:18 12 February 2015

A photo from the launch event before the scenario started

A photo from the launch event before the scenario started

Archant

She was the mastermind behind Becontree’s infamous star-shaped road marking – but now she’s shifted her attention to matching lonely hearts across the capital.

Phillippa Banister, co-founder of Give A Damn Dating. Cycling is one of the activities planned for a future Give A Damn event.Phillippa Banister, co-founder of Give A Damn Dating. Cycling is one of the activities planned for a future Give A Damn event.

Tinder and speed-dating didn’t fill the void for Phillippa Banister so she created an event for people who wanted to add some depth to their love life.

Give A Damn Dating has revolutionised the scene for singletons who want to meet people with similar interests to them, she says.

Perhaps you get fired up over climate change, aim to “consciously consume”, eat locally-sourced veg or run with Good Gym – if so, it could be for you.

Phillippa, 29, set up the event with her friend, Hannah Leach, 28. The pair volunteer together at an organisation that invests money in social enterprising – London Plus Acumen.

Hannah Leach, who co-founded Give A Damn Dating with PhillippaHannah Leach, who co-founded Give A Damn Dating with Phillippa

“We met loads of people there who had similar values and passions to us but it was never clear whether it was too forward to ask for their number, or whether they were single,” Phillippa tells me.

“I’d been speed-dating and found it horrendous. I’ve been on Tinder and it’s all so cringey. If you spend the evening with someone you have absolutely nothing in common with it seems like a waste of time.”

Phillippa works on community-led projects in Barking and Dagenham for the charity Sustrans.

She coordinated the DIY Porter’s Lodge regeneration project in Becontree – home of the short lived star road marking – and is about to start a similar programme in Marks Gate.

A sign from the first Give A Damn Dating eventA sign from the first Give A Damn Dating event

Whether it’s bringing people together to improve their neighbourhood or connecting single people who share the same values, it’s clear Phillippa enjoys applying herself to social challenges.

The first Give A Damn Dating event, which took place in Whitechapel on January 23, had space for 60 people and was completely sold out.

More than 80 per cent of attendees came on their own and 400 have signed up to the online site so far.

Everyone who went was handed a slip containing a scenario: it was 2040 and a global energy crisis had weakened state control.

But refusing to let any other details about the mysterious night slip, Phillippa said: “That’s all you’re getting. I can tell you it worked well. There was a good energy in the room and I know some people swapped numbers.

“I was too busy organising it so I hardly got a chance to chat to anyone.”

In a nod to Tinder there was a “right swipe” box where people could request a person’s details if they were too shy to approach them. “People said it didn’t feel like a dating event at all, but the option was there if they wanted it to be,” Phillippa said.

Talking about plans for future events, she added: “All the themes will be really different. There might be some documentaries with discussions, or cycle rides, or photo exhibitions and cooking. We want to do some partnering up with other social enterprises in London as well.”

Visit giveadamndating.co.uk


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