How Gig Buddies came about

25 September 2017

About Stay Up Late

Stay Up Late started out as a campaign by the punk band Heavy Load. Three of the members of the band had learning disabilities and the band got fed up with seeing many of their fans with learning disabilities having to leave gigs early due to their support workers not being able to work late.

The birth of Stay Up Late was featured in the award winning documentary movie ‘Heavy Load’.

Why Gig Buddies?

As a charity we’ve always been big supporters of club nights specifically for people with learning disabilities. That’s the scene that enabled Heavy Load to start out over 20 years ago and they’re a great way for people with learning disabilities to have a great night out, socialise with their mates and run a night. However, my experiences in Heavy Load (I was the bass player) showed me that more was possible. We went on to play all sorts of mainstream events including two Glastonbury festivals and I don’t believe ‘inclusion’ ends at separate nights for people with learning disabilities.

I think these nights should be seen as a stepping stone on the journey to real inclusion.

At Stay Up Late we believe that all events should be for everybody and this is the aim behind our Gig Buddies project.

About Gig Buddies

We started Gig Buddies in Brighton and Hove in Jan’ 2013 with one part-time worker (our first employee as a charity) and now we employ a team of 5 supporting over 90 pairs of buddies across Sussex, as well as delivering the core work of the charity.

These pairs of buddies regularly go out to all manner of different events that they choose and we’ve also taken buddies to festivals big and small such as Glastonbury, Latitude, Together The People and Farmfest.

This year saw another first with two buddies deciding to go to V-Fest on their own, and they had a great time.

It’s now exciting for us to see the Gig Buddies community grow with partner organisations in Sydney, Edinburgh, Croydon, Calderdale, Long Eaton, Norwich and of course Portsmouth.

Portsmouth is a great place with a lively and diverse cultural/music scene. It’s also Europe’s most densely populated city (and the birth place of Charles Dickens!)

Also we need to say a massive thank you to Portsmouth City Council for making this happen.

The interest in Gig Buddies has been amazing, and for us it’s a practical and fun solution to addressing the very serious problem of social isolation for people with learning disabilities. I like to call it ‘Serious Fun!’

The interest keeps on growing too, only this week I’ve had enquiries from other parts of Australia, Sheffield, Birmingham, Manchester, Hampshire, Barcelona and Norway.

So we’re hoping for more partners in the coming year who will be working alongside Gig Buddies Portsmouth to grow the Gig Buddies community and enable more people with learning disabilities to Stay Up Late!

Gig Buddies at Glastonbury

Here’s a short movie about our trip to Glastonbury 2013, the first year we took some of our Gig Buddies for their first taste of a music festival…!

Paul  (Director) Stay Up Late


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