Innovate Trust have awarded Gig Buddies Cymru a Christmas Gift of £5,000 for the second year in a row, in recognition of the project’s “invaluable service, which brings so much joy to so many.” 

Gig Buddies CymruA group of Gig Buddies standing in front of a huge Christmas tree in Newport town centre tackles loneliness and social isolation by pairing people with and without a learning disability and/or autism so they can attend gigs and other social events together. Since launching the innovative project in Cardiff in 2018 Learning Disability Wales has now expanded Gig Buddies to half the local authorities in Wales.

Nick French, CEO of Innovate Trust, said:

“Gig Buddies offer fantastic opportunities to expand people’s experiences, and in turn, greatly contribute to increasing individuals’ confidence and independence. Many people, from across Wales, have talked to me excitedly about gigs they’ve been supported to attend, what’s coming up next, friends they’ve made, and how they are proud to be part of something bigger. So, in turn, Innovate Trust are delighted, to be able to offer some much-needed funds to this invaluable service, which brings so much joy to so many!”

Richie Horrigan is supported by Innovate Trust and has been a Gig Buddy for over 2 years. In the past year Richie has been to concerts and wrestling matches with his Gig Buddy Mark and has also made several appearances on BBC Radio Wales talking about the events he has attended through Gig Buddies. Richie said:

“One of the things I love about Gig Buddies is that there isn’t a time limit for when you want to go somewhere. In the past I’ve been out with Gig Buddies later than half past midnight. Later this month my Gig Buddy Mark and I are going to a wrestling event that starts at 9pm and finishes at 5am the next morning – that’s no joke!

“Gig Buddies is also great for people who want to do different things – from cinema, and theatre, to drag nights. It’s a lot of fun. Gig Buddies is where the fun never ends!”

Karen Warner, Innovation Manager at Learning Disability Wales, said: “We are delighted to receive a second £5,000 donation from Innovate Trust. It was a fabulous surprise, thank you Nick French! The money will go towards producing new leaflets and promotion materials to raise awareness, recruit more volunteers and make Gig Buddy matches. We look forward to continuing our close working relationship with Innovate Trust and in particular their Insight App that is doing brilliantly in introducing online activities, safe socialising and developing natural friendships.”

New Gig Buddy volunteers needed

Gig Buddies Cymru is regularly looking for volunteers in Anglesey, Bridgend, Cardiff, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Vale of Glamorgan, and Wrexham. To apply to be a Gig Buddy or to find out more visit our Gig Buddies Cymru page where you can download an application form and watch videos about the project.