Stay Up Late was formed in 2006 to support people with learning disabilities and/or autism to be less socially isolated and lead healthier, more fulfilled lives. Support workers tend to finish work at 10pm, meaning that their clients can’t attend late events. In 2013 Stay Up Late founded the Gig Buddies project, pairing adults who have learning disabilities with volunteers interested in the same gigs and activities. 

Gig Buddies’ Coordinator Sophie Howell-Peak says: “Being more connected is not just healthier for individuals, it’s better for communities too. It’s about seeing beyond labels and getting to know individuals, encouraging them to take their rightful place in the community”.

In Hastings, St Leonards and Bexhill, Gig Buddies have a number of participants keen to get out to gigs, cinema, theatre or even just a meal and a drink in the pub – activities that many of us take for granted. The project is looking for volunteers over 18 who can spare time for at least one event a month.

Sophie says: “We know from our existing volunteers that they have a great time and many have formed enduring friendships in the process.”

One Gig Buddies participant says “Before I had a Gig Buddy I felt lost at the weekends. I had never been to a gig but having a Gig Buddy has meant that I’ve discovered new music. It means that I can travel to places I couldn’t before. Once you start going out you are more able to do other things. It improves your confidence”.

Potential volunteers can apply via the charity’s website: Following an interview, applicants are DBS checked and fully trained before being matched with a participant.

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