Gig Buddies Blog

Being a good buddy – gigs are just the top of the pyramid

It’s not just gigs and Staying Up Late

You could be asking yourself ‘What is the point of the charity Stay Up Late and their Gig Buddies project when there’s no gigs to go to and nothing to stay up late for?’

We’ve been asked that a lot in the past “what if I don’t want to stay up late – I actually enjoy an early night!”

We don’t actually care what time you go to bed as long as you get to choose when that is. We also don’t insist you go to gigs. ‘Gig’ for us is a word that describes whatever you’re in to, whatever your ‘gig’ is.

I often joke that when we named the charity I did think about ‘The Choice and Personalisation Charity’ – but it doesn’t have such a rock’n’roll feel. That’s what we’re all about though: ‘Choice and Personalisation’ – living the life that you choose.

Lockdown has been going on for decades – way before Covid

Here at Gig Buddies we’ve been hearing a lot from people with learning disabilities, and their carers, that they’re craving someone to be their buddy but this isn’t just through the lockdowns.

I think what the lockdowns have shown all of us what a life of social isolation feels like, how staying in and binging on Netflix may have its novelty appeal but I for one am craving being able to just go out and meet my friends and have a good catch up.

For many people with learning disabilities their life is one of partial lockdown, whether there’s a Covid outbreak or not. They are told what time to go to bed, they can’t just go down the pub to see their mates, they can’t do spontaneous things.

(See our ‘Manifesto for an Ordinary Life’ to read more about our campaigning around this.)

Gig Buddies has always been about trying to break that mould and enable people with learning disabilities to have people in their lives who aren’t paid to be there, but people who share a common interest with them.

Being a ‘Good’ Buddy

We’re really focussing on what we can all do while there’s no gigs happening and we’re hearing lovely stories from our volunteers about how they’re being a good buddy. Just little things they are doing to keep connected:

  • Sending a text
  • A quick phone call
  • Dropping a card round
  • Arrange a video call
  • Join with them on one of our online socials

Read this lovely story about Angie and Daniel and what they’ve been doing.

The Gig Buddies ‘hierarchy of gigs’

We’re going to be working hard to find more volunteers over the coming months to connect them with people with learning disabilities who are looking for a buddy.

To help explain the relevance of what we’re doing we thought we produce our ‘hierarchy of gigs’ to show what we can all be doing whilst there are restrictions.

As the restrictions change, or are lifted, we’ll be letting everyone know more about what they can do safely to keep connected with people.

But for now we’d say just find any excuse to drop your buddy a text and keep the connection going, and keep it light.

  • Ask them what they’ve seen on TV recently
  • Have they heard any good music lately?

Or give them a quick phone call for a little chat.

If you’ve lost contact

Don’t worry if you feel that you’ve lost contact or maybe haven’t been a great buddy over the past year. We’ve all been dealing with this in our own way and finding it a struggle.

Don’t worry about what you haven’t done, but if you can just pick up the phone and make that first contact.

If you’re worried about the best way to do that just get in touch with one of our Gig Buddies Co-ordinators and they’ll be happy to help, give you some ideas for icebreakers and help you to reconnect.

This lockdown will end

We’ve got to remember that this lockdown will end, Spring is round the corner and hopefully there will be live music filling the air again before too long.

We want to be ready for that glorious day and being a good buddy now is going to make sure we’re all ready to bust out of lockdown and make the most of things once again.

Not a Gig Buddies volunteer yet?

If you’re reading this, live in Sussex and think “I could do that” do get in touch and sign up as a volunteer. We’re always looking for people like you.

Paul – Director, Stay Up Late