The Gig Buddies project pairs up adults with learning disabilities with volunteers who are into the same gigs and activities.

This very simple but very effective idea has been changing and enriching lives, promoting independence, and tackling social isolation head on.

Gig Buddies are people who want to be part of social change, make a difference in someone’s life and most of all, have fun!

Gig Buddies’ Coordinator Sophie Howell-Peak says: “Being more connected is not just healthier for individuals, it’s better for communities too.

It’s about seeing beyond labels and getting to know individuals, encouraging them to take their rightful place in the community.”

In Eastbourne, Polegate and Pevensey, Gig Buddies have a number of participants keen to get out to gigs, cinema, theatre or even just a meal and a drink in the pub – activities that many of us take for granted. They are keen to hear from anyone over 18 with an interest in cultural activities who can spare around one meet up a month.

Sophie says: “We know from our existing volunteers that they have a great time and many have formed enduring friendships in the process.”

One Gig Buddies participant sums up the benefits of the scheme: “Before I had a Gig Buddy I felt lost at the weekends. I had never been to a gig but having a Gig Buddy has meant that I’ve discovered new music.

It means that I can travel to places I couldn’t before. Once you start going out you are more able to do other things. It improves your confidence.”

Potential volunteers can apply via the charity’s website (https://gigbuddies.org.uk/become-gig-buddy/).

Following an interview, applicants are DBS checked and fully trained before being matched with a participant.

Alternatively, phone or email Sophie for an informal chat. She can be contacted via email sophie@stayuplate.org or phone 07812496088