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Project teaming up disabled people with gig buddies celebrates milestone

volunteers at gig buddies partying in front of two balloons making the number 10

A project helping disabled people enjoy live music has recently celebrated a significant milestone.

For the past decade Gig Buddies has paired volunteers and people with learning disabilities together so they can go to concerts, walks or just meet for a catch up to combat loneliness in the disabled community.

Run by Stay Up Late, the initiative staged a silent disco at Brighton club Komedia last month to mark their 10th anniversary.

Back in 2013 Gig Buddies was just finding its feet, but the news spread, now there are similar projects taking place in Australia and New Zealand hosting inclusive events such as Sports Buddies.

Jo is one of the volunteers who found her Gig Buddy, she told Brighton and Hove News: “They say loneliness is as bad for you as smoking 10 cigarettes a day.

“Loneliness is horrible and too many people with a learning disability are lonely and isolated.

“We need great projects like this to help combat these issues.

“I was drawn to Gig Buddies because it’s based on positives.

“It’s such a great way to address the huge issues of inequality, loneliness and exclusion that too many people with a learning disability face.”

The celebrations, which took place on 14 November, included speeches, poems and an acapella song by Lara from Gig Buddies Ireland as well as an epic DJ battle.

Katie Windsor, acting director at Stay Up Late said: “Some of the most powerful experiences I’ve seen over the past five years have been buddies going to Glastonbury or other massive festivals with loads of different types of music.

“Gig Buddies feels like we’re part of something bigger and doing something with a purpose – something to change a small part of society by connecting lots of like minded individuals into a global movement”.

[ The term gig was used as slang chat for the word engagement. ]

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