Punk AGM #3

This is the 3rd year running that we’ve been running our AGM as a ‘Punk AGM’ and we wouldn’t want it any other way at the moment.

(You can read more about last year’s meeting here)

It’s open to anyone and we had around 40 people who were participants, volunteers, trustees, people from other organisations and friends.

This year we thought about how Stay Up Late started as a campaign 10 years ago and thought about this question:


“What could WE do to make life for people with learning disabilities the most AMAZING it can be in the next 10 years ahead?”

We then invited everyone present to come up with ideas and spent the afternoon working with them on developing these. There are just a few rules we work to when we’re running out meeting this way:


  • Whoever comes are the right people
  • Whatever happens is perfect
  • When it’s over it’s over


We got some great feedback about the whole day. Rami, gig buddy said “I enjoyed the AGM – lots of people came this time, I loved the idea of going around and coming up with ideas.”

And what ideas they were…

Idea 1 – Socials (Daniel)

Daniels’ idea was to have an A to Z of events which could include things like:

  • Murder mysteries
  • Silent discos
  • Cinema trips
  • A farm party (?!)
  • Glow in the dark crazy golf
  • Sleep-overs
  • Dinner parties
  • Pub quiz
  • Paul has to drew up as a sheep (again ?!)

(We’re certain that these are all ideas that the Storm and Thunder Team will be working on).

Idea 2 – Bungee jumping (Daniel)

Daniel’s idea was to hold a sponsored bungee jumping event which also involved us dressing up in fancy dress and making a video of the occasion.

Idea 3 – Gig Buddies Theme Park (Andrew)

Andrew’s idea was that Gig Buddies opens up it’s own theme park. This would involve things like:

  • Rollercoasters and bubble works
  • Jobs for people with learning disabilities
  • Discounts for buddies
  • Themed nights
  • Zoo animals
  • An app
  • A totally accessible and friendly place for everyone run by people with learning disabilities
  • Publicity through TV and social media
  • And expanding it to the world!


Andrew said, “Basically I thought of the theme park idea – we would get gig buddies staff to run it”. Rami commented, “We had lots of ideas about it but we’d need money – I think that a circus would be better.”

Which brings us to…

Idea 4 – Fundraising (Rami)

Rami’s idea was to have a whole range of different fundraising activities across the year. Things like:

  • A fancy dress day at work (dress up as your favourite pop star?)
  • Brighton Marathon
  • Cake sales
  • Silent disco (on Brighton band stand?)
  • An all-night stunt – gaming night?
  • Dance bombs
  • Street collections
  • Supporting participants and volunteers to set up Just Giving pages
  • Skydiving?!
  • Mass events like runs and sponsored walks
  • Involving local businesses
  • Having Gig Buddies celebrity online chat
  • Mountain climbing
  • Asking local authorities to help

This would be a good way to involve lots of volunteers and participants and share the work between lots of people raising small amounts.

Idea 5 – Awareness training for venue staff (Kai)

This is idea was to have awareness training for venue staff delivered by people with learning disabilities.

The issues:

  • Some staff are friendly but some are not.
  • Some venues are dark which is difficult if you can’t see well.
  • Venue staff need to speak more clearly when talking to people with learning disabilities so they can understand. It’s a real problem when it’s noisy, loud music and lots of people.
  • Colours on posters can make them difficult to read.
  • Sometimes there’s just too much information on posters.

Some ideas:

  • Linking in with the ‘Thumbs Up’ initiative by Speak Out and developing an app to go with this.
  • Speak Out deliver awareness training
  • Encouraging venues to provide information in an easier to read format.
  • Information about how to find gigs should be better. There’s an app called Songkick but it’s not very accessible.

A second part of this idea was confidence training for Gig Buddies. This could include:

  • How to use transport
  • How to find out what’s on
  • Developing self-esteem
  • Referring to Mencap’s research about how many people with learning disabilities find it hard to get out of the house.
  • Speaking to new buddies.

Idea 6 – #MeetYourHeroes (Tom and Pete)

14440640_10211262102650055_7554032023703421753_nTom and Pete’s idea was to get more celebrity involvement in our work by aiming to create opportunities for buddies to meet their heroes. These could be pop stars, TV stars and actors.


Places we could contact:

  • Make a list of local suitable local contacts (local venues and theatres)
  • Make contact with local festivals like Together The People
  • Get the Rock House bands on board
  • Radio stations

How to start this idea:

  • Start local and small to grow it – approach people who aren’t that famous yet
  • Getting a pop star to promote Gig Buddies
  • Have a 10 year target – in the end we’ll have contact with Elton John, Morrissey, Katy Perry, Kylie and Johnny Marr.
  • We could also contact The Levellers and The Strokes.
  • Make contacts with people through websites and social media.
  • Get in touch with tribute bands and drag queens.

Idea 7 – Training NHS staff (Sedley)

Sedley’s idea was to make sure staff working in the NHS have proper training to understand the needs of people with learning disabilities.

The problems people face are:

  • Not being sure if staff have had training in learning disability awareness. They say they have but its not always clear if they really have.
  • They seem to get good training in medical and clinical issues but not always in dealing with people in a good way.
  • The attitude of staff at the front desk isn’t always good.
  • There was a case where someone was making noises and it seemed that they were being aggressive when in fact they were in pain. There was a real misunderstanding due to not understanding what they were communicating.
  • Mencap had some work around this but the funding ran out.


Ideas that came out:

  • Getting it right from the start
  • Start training in schools
  • Add learning disability awareness training in to college training.
  • Link up with the Care Quality Commission to raise awareness around the needs of people with learning disabilities.
  • Make posters with photo stories on which could go up in GP surgeries. These could also go up in police stations and courts.
  • Make connections with Healthwatch

Idea 8 – Sponsored cycle ride (Chris)

Chris’ idea was a sponsored cycle ride with other Gig Buddies.

He’s even got a date – 8th April, meeting at 9am at the pier. The aim would be to cycle to Chichester (about 32 miles) along the national cycle path. (And it could be in fancy dress!)

Things that need to happen:

  • Paul and Kate to support Chris to set up a fundraising page

Chris said “I can’t wait for the cycle ride to we planned.”

Idea 8 +1! – Cycle buddies (Chris)

Chris also thought it would be nice to find people who could pair up with participants who want to cycle.

  • Madeline is going to write-up a volunteer role description
  • Going to ask Simon to share this with his cycling club

If we get more volunteers through this we could approach other learning disability groups to find out if they have people who would like to have a cycle buddy.

Idea 9 – Getting the right ID (Luc the Hero)

14937366_10211262104890111_602038663760777699_nLuc’s idea was to make sure people have the right ID so they can get in to pubs and clubs.

It’s a real problem for people with learning disabilities, especially if they look quite young and don’t have a passport or provisional driving licence.

Pubs are careful because they don’t want to get in trouble from the police or the council, but it does mean people with learning disabilities are getting discriminated against.

Some things we can do now to take this idea forward:

  1. Find out what can be used instead of drivers licence or passport. (Madeline)
  2. Talk to the council about why it’s difficult only accepting drivers lince and passport for some people. (Madeline to find out who to speak to about this)
  3. Henry and Luc are going to make a video to explain what the problem is and how it effects Luc.
  4. If bars won’t budge on this we need to make sure people have the information they need to get a provisional drivers licence.

Idea 10 – Gig Buddies App (David)

David’s idea was to have an app to make it easier for buddies to share what they’ve been up to. It could feature things like:

  • Only being available to Gig Buddies
  • Accessible and easy to read
  • A chat box so people can message each other
  • Notifications about gigs coming up
  • A what’s on guide for local events
  • A picture section of gigs that we’ve been to
  • Links with Gig Buddies in other places around the UK and the world
  • A way of rating gigs
  • Advice on getting transport
  • News about Gig Buddies

Idea 11 – Art (Joy)

Joy said she loves art and has a really great teacher. Her favourite artist is Matisse.

Joy said she’d like to have support to run sessions that show other people how much fun art is. She would like to partner up with someone so they can teach a group of people together.

These sessions would be for anyone who wants to learn about art and could be about painting, drawing, collaging, whatever people want to do.

Idea 12 – Making the charity much easier to read (Paul)

This year we decided that we were going to try and turn all of the charity’s policies in to an easier to read format, along with most (of not all) of our other information. It’s a big job but we want all information to be as accessible as possible.

Paul said the Stay Up Late website isn’t as accessible as it can be and his blogposts tend to be written for social care staff more than people with learning disabilities.

He wants to try creating video blogs to go with future articles to try and help make them more accessible, fun and engaging for people.

Next steps

It’s always amazing to hear what ideas come out of our AGM and the energy and hubbub in the room is just fantastic. As always we’re keen to point out that we’re simply can’t take on all these ideas and make them happen. Some might be quite quick things we can have a try at, others may may turn in to other ideas, or link in to others. Others may simply be just too ambitious, but there could still be something in there that sets us thinking.

So the next steps are we’re going to talk to the Storm and Thunder Team, the trustees and staff team and think about what we’re going to do next.

As always we will run all the ideas through our ‘ideas test’ to work out what may be the best ones for us.

The ideas test

  • How much does it cost?
  • Is it practical?
  • Is it fun?
  • Does it make a difference?
  • Can we make it last?
  • Are we the right people to do it?
  • Do people with learning disabilities want it?
  • Does it fit with what we do as a charity?

Andrew’s thoughts

When talking about all the amazing ideas that had come out of the day, Andrew said, “I think that what gig buddies really need to do is to expand wider.” Which is great feedback for us staff, we’re really excited about making new things happen, but also making gig buddies happen for new people!


Victoria’s thoughts

You can also read this post by Victoria and Kate. Victoria is our new Quality Checker and she’s written a lovely article with Kate about what she thought of the AGM, and the gig afterwards.


We’re looking forward to seeing how this all turns out as we start working what ideas to put in to action, and how we’re going to do that.



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