A project which pairs adults with learning disabilities with volunteers for gigs and other interests reached its 10th birthday last week.
Gig Buddies, run by Hove charity Stay Up Late, helps pair up people to enable adults with learning disabilities to participate in events like music gigs, walks, or even a cuppa.
Around 110 of the project’s buddies and volunteers celebrated the achievement with a silent disco at Komedia on Tuesday, 14 November.
The project has expanded across the country, and even to Australia and New Zealand, now hosting more than 20 projects, including Sports Buddies.
Jo, a volunteer matched with her Gig Buddy for 10 years, said: “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 birthday event featured speeches and poems, with an acapella song by Lara from Gig Buddies Dublin.
The party continued with Hush Beats headphones, and two channels for DJ battles between the Gig Buddies participants.
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”.