Gig Buddies in Portsmouth has just celebrated it's one year anniversary having opened its doors in May 2017. Brighton was the first place to introduce Gig Buddies and the initiative became such a success that it's expanded across the UK, creating 7 more locations. Gig Buddies is a project that pairs a volunteer with an adult who has learning disabilities and offers them the chance to go to live gigs or other social events together. When Brighton Gig Buddies did a Socialisation survey they found that 64% of adults with learning disabilities felt lonely. That was a really high percentage and by introducing such a positive project the statistics were able to change.
Sometimes its hard to find a friend or partner to go to a live concert or social activities with and this is where Gig Buddies can help. By volunteering a small amount of time each month you are paired up with another adult (who needs a buddy) that matches similar hobbies and interests so you can go to events you will both enjoy. From cinema trips, live events, to bowling there are lots of places to go and build a friendship along the way. All volunteers are DBS checked and trained before being matched so they can be a fully supportive buddy. There is always a Project Coordinator on hand to help out, plus group social events where everyone can meet up once a month and have some fun time, so its a great project to be involved in.
Jo Morgan, who runs the Portsmouth project, is based at Make in Fratton and I popped down to catch up with her and chat about how the project is going. Make is a fabulous creative place with a cafe that sells homemade food; a wide selection of cakes and buns to pies and lunchtime treats. There is a lovely atmosphere and always lots going on. Displays of artwork that people have made at workshops and a shop inside selling vintage and second-hand clothing for very good prices. I actually bought a lovely cookery book for £1.00 and some vintage storage jars!
When I first moved to Southsea I didn't know anyone and I feel this is a lovely way to meet people; a way to do something good for someone who might not be able to get out and have a good time without the help of a volunteer.
There are still lots of adults waiting to be matched to a volunteer buddy! If you think this is something you would like to dedicate a small amount of time to, matching up with like-minded adults wanting to go to similar events, then please get in touch with Jo on 07841 042 909. Or visit www.gigbuddiesportsmouth.org.uk
Photos via Gig Buddies Portsmouth
By Louise O'Brien