Gig Buddies to launch in Cardiff

Learning Disability Wales is extremely excited to announce that we will be starting a Gig Buddies project in Cardiff. Thanks to funding from First Choice Housing Association, Gig Buddies Cardiff will run for an initial twelve months from 1st April 2018 and enable 20 adults with a learning disability to buddy up with volunteers so they can go to gigs and events together.

We are also extremely proud to announce that we are teaming up with the international arts festival, Festival of Voice, to launch Gig Buddies Cardiff.

Celebrating the voice in all its forms, Festival of Voice takes place across Cardiff from 7 - 17 June. The festival revealed its main programme today, including performances by Patti Smith, Billy Bragg, Elvis Costello, Angélique Kidjo and Gruf Rhys. We will reveal more details about our partnership and how it will benefit our Gig Buddies in the next few weeks.

Breaking down barriers, staying up late

Gig Buddies is a befriending scheme that matches people with a learning disability with volunteers who share the same interests, so they can go to gigs together.

It specifically focusses on events that happen in the evenings, such as concerts, in order to break the many barriers that stop people with a learning disability going out at night and staying up late.

These barriers include lack of support, or inflexible support that forces people to leave events early. Other obstacles include transport, confidence, safety, and accessibility of venues.

Most importantly, Gig Buddies are free to choose what their 'gig' is and when and where they want to go. A 'gig' can be a concert, but it can also be a rugby match, a trip to a museum, or an evening down the pub.

Gig Buddies was first started in Brighton in 2013 by the charity Stay Up Late, who campaign for people with a learning disability to live the lifestyle of their choosing. Gig Buddy projects have since popped up in Croydon, Portsmouth, Calderdale, Long Eaton, Norwich, East and West Lothian, and as far as Sydney, Australia.

Kai Jones, Communications Officer with Learning Disability Wales, will lead the project in its first year. Kai said: "Learning Disability Wales have been working with Stay Up Late for several years to bring Gig Buddies to Wales. We are extremely thankful to First Choice Housing for the funding that has made this possible.

"The funding from First Choice will allow Gig Buddies Cardiff to recruit and match 20 pairs of Gig Buddies. We will support them to attend one event a month for the next year, plus regular social meet-ups where we will discuss how the gigs have gone and make plans for future events."

Adrian Burke, Chief Executive of First Choice Housing said: "At FCHA we are passionate about ensuring that people with a learning disability have equal access to homes, services and leisure activities and we see Gig Buddies as a fantastic opportunity to help with this. We are hugely excited about the concept of Gig Buddies and look forward to working with Learning Disability Wales on it."

Learning Disability Wales will also be working to make Gig Buddies Cardiff sustainable beyond the first year of the project. Zoe Richards, our Young Person and Carers Manager will lead on this work.

Zoe said: "It's our hope that the first year of Gig Buddies Cardiff will be a springboard that leads to other Gig Buddies projects being started in the rest of Wales. There is already an excellent Connect Buddies project, run by Conwy Connect, that serves Conwy and the North Wales coast. We want to work with local authorities and service providers so that eventually Gig Buddies is available all over Wales. Please get in touch if you can help us to make this possible."

For more information email or phone Kai Jones or Zoe Richards at Learning Disability Wales on 029 2068 1160.