Socially distanced Gig Buddying – what we’re encouraging
Please note that this article is for everyone connected with Gig Buddies in Sussex.
(Gig Buddies projects in other areas may well have different guidelines – please check with your local coordinators)
Today the government has changed social distancing restrictions, reducing social gatherings – indoors and outdoors – to no more than 6 people.
(There are exceptions. To keep up to date on the latest guidance see the Government’s Coronavirus FAQs website).
I thought this would be a good opportunity for us to explain what we’re doing on the Gig Buddies project to make sure that people are kept safe while still enjoying social opportunities.
Our approach so far
Through lockdown, and up until September, we asked buddies to not meet whilst we tried to work out the safest thing to do.
We became acutely aware that many of the socially isolated people we work with felt desperate for some social contact. We started to hear of pairs of buddies who had decided to meet up in a socially distanced, and totally responsible, way.
As a charity that is built on the punk ethos of breaking rules and making positive social change, we took our hats off to them. We decided that it was safer to support buddies to meet up, where we could provide support and advice, rather than knowing they would probably do it anyway!
We had taken our very firm “no meeting up” approach because frankly we were getting increasingly confused by the government’s official guidance and felt that people with learning disabilities would also find this potentially hard to follow.
So, we thought it best to come up with something that was clear and concise. This is a summary of what we are doing:
We have started to run socially distanced meet-ups in open spaces such as parks or walks along the seafront. These are for no more than 6 people and will be held locally to where people live so they don’t need to catch public transport.
One to one Gig Buddying
We are encouraging buddies to meet up but only in outdoor spaces such as parks or at cafes where there is plenty of outdoor space.
We will ask you to complete our short form to show you’ve read our guidance.
We’ve tried matching meetings over Zoom and frankly it’s not the same so we will be arranging these in appropriate spaces so new buddies can get to know each other in a much more natural way.
We’re working on a plan to have small socially distanced meet-ups in safe indoor spaces. We haven’t got this finalised yet but will let everyone know when we have something arranged.
Other ways to be involved
We’re still carrying on our programme of online coffee mornings, socials, pub quizzes and what have you and all buddies are welcome to attend these. We’ll let all the buddies know when these are happening through the newsletter and the private Facebook Group.
If you’re not a member of the private Facebook Group you can sign up here.
Our latest updates
For the latest updates and information about how Gig Buddies is working through the pandemic please see the Coronavirus page on our website.
One of Stay Up Late’s campaign ambassadors pointed out that the government’s guidance has not only been confusing, but is presented in a way that is not accessible for people with learning disabilities. The campaign ambassadors have written to the Prime Minister at No. 10 Downing Street to make this point and call for better information for everyone.
You can read their letter here.
We want to say a big thank you to all our Stay Up Late family for striving to keep connected during the pandemic. We’re doing our best to make sure we can be social and stay safe -if you have any other concerns of questions, get in touch with us:
firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch with your Gig Buddy