What is Gig Buddies?

Gig Buddies is a project that matches people with a learning disability with a volunteer who has similar interests to go to nightlife activities together.

The aim of the project is to support people with a learning disability to make new friends and help them go out and do the things they enjoy.

Watch the video to find out more.

Sign up to volunteer!

"Everyone is friendly, professional and reliable. I love hanging out with everyone. It’s been nice to get to know Bradford as I’m not from here originally and learn loads of new skills. I like the fact we’re a small family and if we need any help or support we can get in touch"

Vicky, Mencap Volunteer


Click the sections below to reveal more information about Gig Buddies.

Why volunteer?

Volunteering doesn't stop at 5pm, there is so much more to do and sometimes we just need someone to do it with.

Being a Gig Buddy volunteer means you are able to support someone whilst enjoying things you already do or allows you to try new things whilst also making a new friend.

Mencap Gig Buddies provides:

  • the opportunity to go to great events based on your shared interest and meet new people.
  • the opportunity to support someone with a learning disability to live a life like anyone else and make choices about how you spend social time together 
  • induction training around learning disability, communication and safeguarding
  • friendly ongoing support, mentoring and guidance from a local Coordinator.

Sign up to volunteer here!

Why be a Buddy?

Being a Buddy means:

  • a chance to try new things
  • going out in the evening and feeling safe
  • getting to know someone new
  • making friends.

Sign up to be a Buddy here!

The history of Gig Buddies

Gig Buddies was founded by the Brighton based charity Stay Up Late who now share the project model with like-minded organisations around the UK and even in Sydney, Australia.

The project began from a campaign in 2006 to fight for the rights of people with learning disability to “stay up late” and not be restricted by support worker shifts.

In 2013 they founded Gig Buddies as a practical solution to this, matching volunteers and people with learning disabilities who shared interests around music to go to gigs together. The project has since evolved, and matches people to be "buddied" for a range of activities, not just gigs and music. 

Take a look at some of our FAQ to find out more about the Gig Buddies project.

Download our easy read guide to Gig Buddies here (Word).

Gig Buddies during coronavirus

Our Gig Buddies site in Bradford came up with creative ways to transition online during the coronavirus outbreak.


  • creating a Gig Buddies Spotify playlist where all members have shared their top 5 songs and we share a song of the day
  • video calls between pairs
  • posting materials to participants without digital/internet access
  • word search games with Gig Buddies related words
  • virtual social events (e.g. quizzes via Zoom are being hosting every other week)
  • music played by local artists in the Gig Buddies Coronavirus Fest (organised by Stay Up Late).

We  encouraged Gig Buddies to keep in contact with each other and pairs are keeping in contact through calls and messages.

We are still taking on new volunteers and holding volunteer training online and in person.

Gig Buddies resources

We know that due to coronavirus people are spending a lot more time at home.

To help, we've made these resources to help you keep busy and take care of your physical and mental health. 

Contact us

You can email us at gig.buddies@mencap.org.uk.



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