Gig Buddies partners day, Bristol

Gig Buddies partners day, Bristol

It was just wonderful to have the opportunity to meet up with many of the Gig Buddies projects from around the UK for a day of reflection and action at The Exchange in Bristol. (Hosts of Gig Buddies Bristol).

We’d not seen each other in 3 years in person, and some of us had never met outside of a Zoom meeting.

The key issues we talked about

Impact Measurement

Making sure we’re explaining the benefits of Gig Buddies, not just in numbers but also in telling the stories about individual people. It isn’t about gigs. It’s about leading a happy and healthy life and choosing how you do that. The gigs are a happy bi-product!

It is essential to all of us that we get the messaging correct and that life opportunities for people with learning disabilities continue to grow and services are not cut or closed down.

With all the worries about the cost of living crisis, inflation and cuts to public services, this is becoming increasingly important.

With all the worries about the cost of living crisis, inflation and cuts to public services, this is becoming increasingly important.

The cost of living crisis

We were all very much of a mind that: 

“we’re all in this sh*t together, so let’s have a party”.

That’s not to dismiss real concerns people are having but to say there are still things we can do to be a community that cares.

Volunteer recruitment and engagement

Being a Gig Buddy can be, by its nature, a more solitary type of volunteering. So it’s crucial to find ways to create a greater sense of community and connection to something that’s about something more significant—a movement.

We shared creative ways in which we’ve effectively managed to attract new volunteers too.

Volunteer training

When the lockdown happened, all training went online, and now we have a blended version of online and in-person sessions. We chatted about what we learned from this and what we’d like to change.

Everyone is doing something different due to their location whilst covering the necessary bits that make it Gig Buddies.

Training and boundaries

Often people can come to Gig Buddies wanting more than just a buddy; they want a relationship. We discussed what to do about this and the role of Gig Buddies. It’s not a dating agency, and it’s not an advocacy service. Still, we can signpost people onto other local projects and services.

It is vital to all of us to keep the integrity of the project and our self-care and well-being. Otherwise, we’ll get overwhelmed.

‘Hard to reach people’

‘Hard to reach’ is a term that gets used a lot. Funders and local authorities are always keen to know what we are doing to reach people who aren’t connected to other groups, organisations or on the internet.

We talked about ways in which we’re working to find people who might otherwise fall between the gaps.

We also agreed it’s not their fault they’re hard to reach, so we used the language ‘people we find hard to reach.’ We need to take responsibility for trying to find them.

Other areas covered:

  • Safeguarding
  • Making the most of matching meetings
  • Running socials
  • Storing information around diversity and impact

Gig Buddies Bangers

We all shared the music we’re enjoying at the moment and made this playlist for sharing with you all.

You might not like everything, but there’s something for all tastes, like the Gig Buddies project. Whatever your particular gig is!

Here’s to next time

It was just so lovely to be able to connect with everyone and chat about our work. We hope the next one is a lot sooner, and we’re also hoping to see some new faces from new Gig Buddies projects soon. More on that in the coming months.

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