Project information

Gig Buddies

Gig Buddies supports socially isolated people with learning disabilities and/or autism to be active in their communities by matching them with a volunteer who loves the same music as they do (or any other cultural activity). It's all about developing friendships through the love of the same thing.

12 months

Charity information: Stay Up Late

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  • Need


    Many people with learning disabilities and/or autism find it difficult to be active in their communities especially in the evening.
    Contributing factors are:
    - Not having enough funded support hours
    - Worrying about keeping safe in the community
    - Not having the confidence or motivation to go out
    - Having nobody to go with
    - Not having accessible information about what’s on
    - Needing support with transport
    This has a detrimental effect on their physical and mental well-being.


    Gig Buddies matches up socially isolated people with learning disabilities and/or autism with a volunteer who shares the same cultural interests.
    All volunteers are vetted and trained, and have a full criminal record check before being matched with their 'buddy'. The aim is to use the shared interest as a hook on which to develop an on-going friendship so the socially isolated person can develop their informal support networks and friendships as well as developing confidence in the community.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    That people with learning disabilities are less lonely and have more friends.


    » By matching them with a volunteer who can develop a one to one friendship with them, based around a mutual interest.

    What success will look like

    All participants are asked a series of questions about how isolated they feel at the start and during the project. Participants are also involved in feeding back in various ways.

    Aim 2

    That people with learning disabilities are empowered to make more choices about how they live


    » By ensuring that the project runs in a way in which the choices of participants are upheld, and to also support people to have new experiences.

    What success will look like

    We also ask participants to reflect on how they feel about making choices in their lives at the outset of working with us and how this has changed through their buddying.

    Aim 3

    That communities become more inclusive.


    » Participants will be able to access mainstream cultural activities enabling them to connect with people in their community of interest, and locality.

    What success will look like

    Volunteers are asked at the outset if they have any friends with a learning disability (the majority don't) and then asking them to reflect in their buddying relationship.

  • Impact


    Our aim is that people with learning disabilities and/or autism will be much more visible, and involved, in mainstream cultural events. There are many 'inclusive events' for people with learning disabilities but our view is that all events should be for people with learning disabilities.
    We also want people to feel much more empowered about how they choose to spend their time.
    We will be able to demonstrate this through the number of participants actively attending events, and choosing these.


    We work with people who are regarded as 'adults at risk' due to their disability. The main risks to our success are people being at risk of harm, or abuse.
    We deal with this by:
    - Interviewing all volunteers
    - Conducting full criminal record checks
    - Insisting that all volunteers attend a training day which covers safeguarding.
    - Providing all volunteers with ongoing support to ensure that any specific issues are dealt with.
    - Enabling all participants to raise any concerns with us.


    We will report on our progress in a number of ways:
    - We will publish an evaluation report of our progress
    - We will publish regular updates on the project through our website and social media.
    - We will send individual updates to specific donors via email with our progress.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £5,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £3,000 Staff costs Employing project co-ordinator to recruit and support matching of buddies
      £1,000 Volunteer expenses Reimbursing costs for tickets and travel for events.
      £1,000 Admin General admin and office costs to run the project.

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Brighton and Hove City Council £21,000 Guaranteed
    Sussex Community Foundation £14,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    The project will be based in Sussex particularly focussing on those people with learning disabilities who live in more rural areas or are isolated through being less digitally connected. We want to make sure that they get to hear about our work and can benefit from it.


    Adults with learning disabilities and/or autism. Ideally we will target those people who receive little or no funded support as this group of people are at the greatest risk from social isolation.
    We will do this by working with carers groups, social work teams, support providers and groups.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We started the Gig Buddies project on a small scale in Brighton and Hove 5 1/2 years ago and have since developed it to cover Sussex.
    In this time we have learned a lot about the best way to run a project of this nature and are now supporting organisations in other parts of the country to replicate our work in their area.
    We have also developed a reputation for innovative and impactful work which aims to put people with learning disabilities at the centre of everything that we do.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Kate Ogden

    Project co-ordinator

    Harri Oliver

    Project assistant

    Katie Windsor

    Project assistant

Stay Up Late’s Gig Buddies project supports people with learning disabilities to make long-lasting and meaningful friendships

Jo and Christian