Malcolm, our Gig Buddies Coordinator for West Sussex reflects on his first 6 months in the role
In October 2018, a friend emailed me a link to a job advert that had, as she put it, ‘your name written all over it!’.
She knew about my passion for music, going back over (too many!) decades. She also knew about my work in housing and community support settings, helping marginalised and vulnerable people work towards greater social inclusion.
I was obviously curious and, having clicked on the link, it turned out to be for a project coordinator role at Stay Up Late/Gig Buddies. I’d heard of Stay Up Late and having read the job description and explored the website it did seem to be the perfect role for me.
I sent in my application form and the 60 second video – a mildly terrifying experience in itself! – and waited. Happily, the video didn’t put them off. Following my interview with Victoria, Paul and Kate, I was offered the job. I started my ‘Stay Up Late’ adventure in January and, somehow, I now find myself reflecting on 6 months as a Gig Buddy coordinator.
It’s all about people and community
As good as the job looked on paper, nothing could have prepared me for what was to come, and almost always in a good way! When I try to boil it all down I find, not surprisingly, it’s all about People and Community.
I’m constantly inspired by the people I work with and support. From our participants, whose passion and joy for life, often against significant odds, is a constant reminder to me of the need to get on with life, take the opportunities that come your way and, most importantly, step outside your comfort zone once in a while!
Then, of course, there are the volunteers. Without these wonderful people there is no gig buddies project. That’s a hell of a lot of gigs, pub nights, films, walks, meals, plays etc not attended. More social isolation, less choice, more loneliness, less independence. A society much poorer for all of us.
It’s been a privilege to be given the opportunity to support our volunteers and participants on their Gig Buddies journey in the knowledge that between us we are, in our own small way, making the world a nicer place.
Matchings, singing and dancing!
It would be wrong for me not to mention my fellow Stay Up Late colleagues who have helped in so many ways to make this first six months such a joy. They know who they are so I won’t list them here (I only have 500 words!), but without their warm welcome, support, encouragement, occasional bouts of spontaneous singing and dancing, not to mention Victoria’s motivational sayings, I might not feel quite so sure that ‘I’ve got this’.
To give you a brief flavour of my experience since January, it has included dancing, singing, performing improv spoken word, attending inspirational workshops and conferences, and best (and most importantly of all) set up some exciting new Gig Buddy pairings!
“When life gives you lemons, eat the lemons”
It would be lying if I didn’t admit to the odd moment of blind panic! But, so far, I’ve come through those, and as one renowned philosopher is known to say; ‘When life gives you lemons, eat the lemons!’
Here’s to the next six months!
Malcom Hill, Gig Buddies Coordinator, West Sussex