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Gig Buddies

Gig Buddies Hull, run by the learning disability charity Mencap, have announced their first gig back since the Covid-19 pandemic began, the Gig Buddies Gig’in.

The project which matches people with a learning disability with a volunteer to go to gigs and enjoy nightlife activities together, aims to reduce loneliness and promote social inclusion for young people with a learning disability.

On Friday 24th September 2021, Gig Buddies Hull will host an epic celebration at Wrecking Ball Music & Books where Gig Buddies pair, Tommy and Martha, will perform alongside other bands including, Sunflower and Kangaroo’s Shoes. There will be dance from Tamar and Jo, spoken word poetry from Gig Buddy Emily, as well as a Gig Buddies film showcase from pair Callum and Emily.

Currently, there are 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK with many facing social isolation and exclusion everyday – something that the coronavirus pandemic has only made worse. Even before this, 1 in 3 young people with a learning disability spent less than an hour outside their homes on a typical Saturday. Gig Buddies aims to change this.

Throughout the pandemic Gig Buddies has continued matching pairs and meeting virtually, hosting lots of gigs and events online to keep people with a learning disability connected throughout the pandemic but this gig will be the first gig in person for many.

Gig Buddies hope this gig is one of many more to come and one that creates a safe and welcoming space for people with a learning disability to come and express themselves creatively and feel connected to their local community.

Speaking of the upcoming gig, Gig Buddy Liam, who has a learning disability, said: “It’s going to be really nice to see people face-to-face after so long of talking virtually. I’m mostly looking forward to the social aspect, we’ve been lonely for so long it’ll be nice to be with people again and listen to live music together.

“I’m grateful to Emily for managing to put this together and give us a sense of freedom and normality back into our lives. If it wasn’t for the Gig Buddies project, people with a learning disability would struggle to find things to do, a big thank you to Gig Buddies and to Wrecking Ball for having us.”

Shane Rhodes, co-owner of Wrecking Ball Music & Books, said: “Wrecking Ball Music & Books is delighted to welcome and work in partnership with Gig Buddies to provide those with a learning disability with a venue to present their work and creativity.

“Our new music and books retail outlet, which has two venue spaces, opened in summer 2020. We are based in historic premises that are over two hundred years old and Grade II* listed, which brings with it several challenges when it comes to accessibility, although the shop benefits from step-free access and we have a lot of space where people can express themselves creatively.

“We were extremely pleased that Hull & East Riding Gig Buddies Coordinator Emily Clixby approached us with the idea of hosting a Gig Buddies gig. Emily’s contact coincided with our pilot approaches to utilising our ground floor space as an accessible venue. We are committed to ensuring that Wrecking Ball Music & Books is accessible to everyone and Emily has provided us with useful insights into how this can be made possible for those with a learning disability and also offered us lots of guidance and advice regarding accessibility. This approach has certainly led to us considering our attitudes towards people with a learning disability and how, as a business, we can make a positive difference.

“We can’t wait to welcome Gig Buddies to Wrecking Ball Music & Books and providing a safe and welcoming space to all of those involved.”

This Gig Buddies gig is not open to the public. To become a Hull Gig Buddies volunteer, find out more and sign up online here.