A project that helps people with learning disabilities who love live music, going out and making friends, is holding a relaunch event next week.
Gig Buddies, run by local charity Club Soda and supported by Croydon Council, will be at Boxpark on Monday 22 July from 5-9pm to recruit new volunteers for their gig buddy programme.
Gig Buddies matches volunteers with people with learning disabilities who have similar interests to them, so that they can enjoy events, gigs and activities together. The project helps to combat social isolation faced by many people with learning disabilities, and ensures they don’t miss out on a social life
The Croydon scheme, which was piloted last year and re-launched in March 2019 after securing three year’s funding, is currently the only one in the capital. The project grew out of Sussex charity Stay Up Late, which started as a national campaign to ensure that people with a learning disability receive support that doesn’t stop at 9pm, and can access practical support to go out in the evenings. It has expanded across the UK, encouraging more people to get out and enjoy their local cultural scene.
Club Soda facilitates groups for people with learning disabilities to create exciting social and creative opportunities, helping to ensure that they are as happy, social, creative and valued as everyone else.
Since March, Gig Buddies Croydon has attracted around 20 volunteers and buddies waiting to be paired up, with many more interested in the project. Gig Buddies attracts people of all ages, with all kinds of interests – from heavy metal to musicals, indie music to club nights, cinema trips to a walk in the park. Gig Buddies attend monthly socials in Croydon to get to know each other, enjoy the local nightlife and build a community of like-minded people.
“This is a great project which makes a real difference to lives. Croydon is developing a fantastic cultural scene and what is really important to us is that it is inclusive and accessible for everyone in our community.
“Gig Buddies goes right to the heart of this.”
Councillor Oliver Lewis, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport
Jan Keane, mum to Holly, said: “The project has given my daughter an opportunity to meet and mix with young people of her age. It enables her to go to venues and pubs without her parents, but in a safe and supportive way. This is particularly valuable to my daughter who is an only child and therefore does not have the opportunity to go to concerts and venues with siblings. The project has given her confidence to go out in the evenings and enabled her to do age-appropriate activities.”
Gig Buddy volunteer Rosie Baldwin said, “Being a part of Gig Buddies Croydon has been such a positive experience for me so far. The socials have been really varied and a lot of fun – a great chance to meet new people, see a few bands, play some board games and even watch a cabaret. I’m really looking forward to another year of it!”
Kate Wilson, also a volunteer, added: “I heard about the Gig Buddies program many years ago so I was very excited to learn a branch had started in Croydon. The program is inclusive, friendly and joyous. It has been a unique opportunity to share my passion for music with others who have the same excitement for live music. Music is always better with others.”
The relaunch event on 22nd July 2019 will feature performances from Club Soda DJs. Come down between 5pm-9pm to talk to them about volunteering or ask about being matched with a buddy.
For more information about becoming a Gig Buddy contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.gigbuddiescroydon.co.uk . Follow Gig Buddies on social media to keep up to date with their latest news and events:
• Facebook – @GigBuddiesCroydon
• Twitter – @GigBuddies_Croy
• Instagram – @gigbuddiescroy