Newly launched Gig Buddies is helping adults with learning disabilities and autism attend live music in venues across Sydney.
A new service is pairing people with learning disabilities and autism with other music lovers to attend live music gigs and events together – and become friends.
Gig Buddies launched at Sydney’s Round House in February. It was inspired by Stay Up Late, a similar service in the UK.
Gig Buddies Social Media Co-ordinator Matthew Collins said many people with learning disabilities he’d met couldn’t lead the full and active social lives they wanted because their support workers finished at 10pm – when a good gig is just beginning.
And because supporter workers are from across different age groups, they’re not always into the same music as the people they support.
“Gig Buddies was started because we believe that people with learning disabilities have the right to stay up late and have some fun,” he said.
“Music, as a broad universal language, appeals to the vast majority of people, unlike sporting events or chess, for example – although that’s not to say we would discourage a gig buddy from wanting to watch a football match.
“Music doesn’t always need words to convey its message and for some people with a disability this is a great form of expression which can lead to further enhancing their social life.”
So how does it work?
Gig Buddies volunteers and participants meet with Gig Buddies and answer a range of questions that help pair up buddies and future friends with the same kind of interests.
Buddies can also call ahead to venues to see if they can use their Companion Card to cut costs.
In just a few months Gig Buddies has signed up 20 active Gig Buddies participants, with another 15 waiting to be involved. More than 200 volunteers have also been in contact.
“While people with intellectual disabilities and autism are our main focus, we remain open to accepting – and have – gig buddies with varying disabilities,” Matthew said.
Gig Buddies Sydney is only operating in Sydney because that’s where Matthew and other founders live and work but they’re more than happy to help anyone who wants to set a similar service up in other states or cities. Just give them a call!
Find out how to be involved in Gig Buddies at http://www.gigbuddiessydney.org.
And while we’re on live music, check out this video made by Alex Taylor in the UK about his experiences of attending gigs in a wheelchair.