We were absolutely delighted to partner with Gig Buddies as part of Independent Venue Week this year to present an awareness event at The Electric Circus in Edinburgh discussing support needs of Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people.
Our event at The Electric Circus in Edinburgh on Sunday 29th January showed that people with additional support needs don’t just want to come to gigs but they can be the headline act. We put together a great line-up that highlights the work of Gig Buddies participants, volunteers and their wider community.
Gig Buddies is a project with a simple goal, to allow people with additional support needs to have the social life they want. This is achieved by pairing people who have a learning disability to a volunteer who shares the same interests. Our ‘Gig Buddies’ are then free to go to the events they want, when they want. Whether it be music, theatre, cinema, art, or anything else you have a passion for, we say it can be whatever your gig is! We encourage our pairings to treat their relationship just like any normal friendship, this allows them to grow and develop, with an overall goal of bringing an end to social isolation.
One of the many aims of Gig Buddies is to send a message to venues that people with additional support needs want and deserve to come to your shows, we just need to make the right changes to allow these experiences to happen. Having a Gig Buddy is a great confidence boost to many of the people they support but having volunteer is just one step out of social isolation – venues and event organisers need to change too. We don’t mean change in a physical sense, we understand that for many venues offering disabled access is simply not possible, but that doesn’t mean they can’t change to make their shows more accessible for people with support needs.
For our Independent Venue Week event, we were extremely proud to be able to offer free tickets to people in a supporting role. It’s very often the case that the person being supported buys their carers tickets – this can be expensive and means a lot of music fans are driven away from attending events that they would love to be at. But the truth is that they wouldn’t be able to attend without support, meaning deals on tickets, even if it’s just cheaper concession prices for carers, goes a long way in helping people with support needs get to the events they love.