We are excited to announce our new Project Coordinators who will support the delivery of our new Gig Buddies project in North Wales. We want to give a warm and Gig Buddy-friendly welcome to Heather Graham and Rachel Somerville!

Gig Buddies is Learning Disability Wales’ befriending project. It tackles loneliness and social isolation by matching adults with a learning disability and/or autism with a volunteer who has similar interests so they can go to gigs and events together.

Heather and Rachel will be coordinating the project in North Wales, which involves recruiting, matching and supporting new Gig Buddies, promoting the project, and helping it to grow across North Wales. Heather and Rachel are a welcome addition to our Gig Buddies team, joining Kai Jones and Kylie Smith, our South Wales Project Coordinators, and Project Manager Lyndsey Richards, who oversees the north and south projects.

Heather has lots of experiences of volunteering, including volunteering for the charities Barnardo’s and Autism Initiatives, and has spoken at the Welsh Youth Parliament, in the Senedd, in Cardiff. Before working for Gig Buddies Heather worked for a cleaning company called in St Asaph.

Heather loves “walking and meeting up with friends and going to cafes. I love listening to rock music/grunge especially Nirvana. I’ve also been to see the foo fighters for my 18th birthday – a very memorable concert.”

Heather said she is “really looking forward to working with Gig Buddies and I look forward to working with Rachel. I can’t wait to have loads of fun working on the project. I think its really important to have an organisation like Gig Buddies as so many adults with learning disabilities miss out on going to events due to lack of support, so to have Gig Buddies is fantastic.”

Rachel has previously worked for Mencap Cymru’s Our Social Networks project, which has been capturing the history and nature of friendships and intimate relationships experienced by people with a learning disability living in Wales today.

Rachel says her hobbies are “mostly anything outdoors as I love walking, cycling and camping. I absolutely love dance music and will rave in my kitchen with the Alexa on full blast quite often! I also love to sing too. I miss sitting and relaxing in coffee shops as I’m a huge fan of pumpkin spice lattes. I have a huge interest in anything creative, especially painting, art therapies combined with outdoor therapies. And I also absolutely love food and could watch the food channels for hours!”

Rachel said: “I am so excited to be part of the Gig Buddies team, especially in North Wales where I’m from. I’m really looking forward to getting started, working with Heather and the amazing Gig Buddies team and seeing where this journey takes us. I’m sure it’s going to be lots of fun!”

Following a successful three years expanding Gig Buddies across South Wales, Learning Disability Wales is thrilled to be launching Gig Buddies across all six local authorities in North Wales – Anglesey, Gwynedd, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham.  This has been made possible thanks to funding from First Choice Housing Association (who also fund Gig Buddies in South Wales) and the North Wales Transformation project.

Lyndsey Richards, Gig Buddies Project Manager, said: “I am delighted to be in a position to pilot Gig Buddies in North Wales. There has been a huge appetite for us to take the project to North Wales and thanks to First Choice Housing and the Learning Disability Transformation Fund this is now possible. I am also delighted to be working with a steering group to shape the project’s developments and don’t think we would be as forward as we are without them. I am thrilled to welcome two new members to the Gig Buddies team – Rachel and Heather, our new coordinators in North Wales – and feel very excited about the future of Gig Buddies in Wales as a whole.”

How to join Gig Buddies in North Wales

Gig Buddies North Wales will have it’s official launch in November at Learning Disability Wales’ annual conference, Everybody, on Friday 20 November. However applications for Gig Buddies are already open. We are looking for:

For more information about our Gig Buddies work please contact our Gig Buddies team: email gigbuddies@ldw.org.uk or phone 029 2068 1160.

Heather and Rachel smiling

Heather Graham and Rachel Somerville – Gig Buddies North Wales project coordinators