A look back at 2018

Stay Up Late annual review

It’s time again for the Stay Up Late annual review and it’s been another rip-roaring year for the charity and here we’ve had a look back at just some of the highlights, and also some of the challenges that we’ve faced.

It’s been an amazing year, I can’t believe what we achieved. 2018 was the year we really Stay Up Late!

Victoria, Quality Checker

We’ll also be publishing our official annual review soon too but our advisory group commented that having an annual review for the financial year is a bit confusing, so we also publish this review of the calendar year.

Gig Buddies Sussex

Our work delivering the Gig Buddies project across Sussex continues to grow and we hit 100 pairs of buddies.

There’s been loads of other activity with delivering the project too. The demand was so great that we took the difficult decision to pause our waiting list but this also meant that we expanded the number of socials that we’ve been running in towns across Sussex so as to keep as many people involved in our community as possible.

Stay Up Late annual review

Other highlights were our clubbing all-nighter and supporting a group to steward at Latitude Festival

The Stay Up Late Campaign

The finished the initial 3 year funded project by Esmee Fairbairn Foundation to develop our campaigning work and it was fantastic to look back on what we’ve achieved and the network of campaigning groups we’ve been working with. In particular we’re excited to see how the Stay Up Late Scotland network is developing, which has inspired further work by us.

We’re never quite sure where our work will take us and one surprise project this year was writing a musical in 6 days with a group of people with learning disabilities from Finland called ‘Pie in the Sky’.  

It was all about the right to lead an ordinary life, and featured a giant flying pie!

Stay Up Late annual review

We were also delighted to work with Open Future Learning to make some videos around our campaigning work.

The Quality Checking Team

We welcomed Rohan, Lucy, Jason, Andrew and Kittie to the team as our new quality checking team supporting Southdown Housing with peer-led evaluations of their support services. They’ve been bust writing a brand new quality checking tool to help with this.

They also ran a great activity at our Annual General Meeting.

It’s very exciting to be a part of something new for Stay Up Late, talking to people about their support services and helping to ensure people have choice and control in areas of their lives that others might take for granted.

I love that Stay Up Late are always ready to take on new challenges and always striving to make positive change happen!

I think the past year really shows this with an expanding team, including 5 paid roles for people with learning disabilities, a quality project, Gig Buddies projects popping up all over the country and beyond.

I can’t wait to see what happens next! 

Kittie – Quality Team Co-ordinator

Gig Buddies is serious fun – and that’s official!

We were delighted to be able to work with Research in Practice for Adults (RiPFA) who evaluated our Gig Buddies project and found that we’re having a serious impact on the lives of people with learning disabilities and/or autism – and enabling them to have fun at the same time! Read more about this here.

Venue Reality

We worked with Brighton based virtual reality studio ‘Make Real’ to make 360  degree videos inside music venues to enable people to see what venues look like before they go.

Stay Up Late annual review

Also big thanks to Google for lending us one of their incredible Google Jump cameras to do this. Such was the interest in this project Google have filmed a short documentary with us to highlight our innovative work on this. (Not bad work from a charity who know nothing about Virtual Reality – just as well Sam from Make Real has been on hand to help us!)

Our advisory groups

It was wonderful to see our Storm and Thunder Team talk about their year at our Annual General Meeting without any need to support from our staff team.

Stay Up Late annual review

It was also great to see The Wild Rainbows leading as we marched in Brighton Pride, and how the supported some PhD research around the experiences of LGBTQ+ people with learning disabilities.

Stay Up Late annual review

New Gig Buddies partners

We were excited to support new Gig Buddies projects to set up in Croydon, Norwich, Long Eaton, West Lothian, Bedford and Oxford.

News about our work

As a small charity we’re always excited when people get to hear about our work and this year was a good one for that. We appeared in Radio 4, The Russell Howard Hour on Sky and were referenced in Alex Fox’s book ‘A New Health and Care System: Escaping the Invisible Asylum’.

Stay Up Late annual review

It was also a thrill to have rockstar Frank Turner support us by using his UK tour to spread the word about people with learning disabilities not being allowed the right to stay up late if they want to.

Our trustees

We welcomed 4 new trustees to our board, Berhana, Rami, Chris and Chris.

Our overall strategy

Such has been the expansion of our work that we decided to call in some outside support to help us with developing our Strategic Plan, with help from Insley Consulting (more on that next year) and also with our fundraising. This was a significant year for us because we came to the end of a couple of key grants and want to keep on delivering what we do well.

Bringing in a fundraising consultant enabled us to steer ourship through these waters and we’re in a sound place with our fundraising for the next few years.

With my first 6 months including: writing and performing a musical in a week, taking part in the Brighton Pride parade, and punking up AGMs, I am very pleased to be part of the Stay Up Late team!

Katie – Gig Buddies Coordinator, Brighton and Hove


The year wasn’t without its challenges, we (like every other organisation in the UK) had to get our heads around the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). Thanks to peer support from other local groups and organisations we worked hard to make sure we were ready for the new regulations and working in way that ensured the safety of any personal data that we have.

This also led us to investing in a brand-new Salesforce system – something we’re still learning!

We’ve already mentioned the waiting list under Gig Buddies but it was a difficult decision to pause new applications and was a classic case of us being victims of our own success.

Stay Up Late annual review

We were also very sad to say goodbye to Harri and wish her well on her new adventures overseas. Harri made a huge contribution to our work and we’re lucky to have worked with her.

Our accounts

These are our finances for the last financial year and we’re really pleased to show that we’re in a really healthy place. 2016/17 was a year where we needed to invest funds and re-organise the way we did things, which is why we showed a small loss, but things are now looking healthy to support our ongoing work.

Stay Up Late annual review

Looking forward

All this activity over the year has left us in a really exciting place as we’ve just recruited 4 new people to our team to support us with delivering our work over the coming years. This means we’ll be developing the Stay Up Late Campaign, reaching more people through Gig Buddies and supporting more Gig Buddies projects to start up in other parts of the country.

We’re looking forward to seeing how the Quality Checking Team develop their work and we’ve got our ‘(un)Ordinary Conference’ to look forward to on 26th March in Streatham.

There’s an awful lot more we could tell you as we’re also updating both this website and the Gig Buddies website and we’re working to develop our board of trustees to make our meetings even more accessible.

All in all with whatever we do we’ll be working to make sure that we’re supporting people with learning disabilities and/or autism to fight for the right to party!

Stay Up Late annual review

2019 looks like it’ll be another exciting year for us. Make sure you’re on our mailing list so we can keep you updated.

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