We've compiled answers to some of your frequently asked questions (FAQ) about Gig Buddies.

Click the question to reveal each answer.

What is Gig Buddies

Gig Buddies is a volunteer befriending scheme for adults with a learning disability, matching them with a volunteer who shares the same interests.

Many people with a learning disability only have family or people paid to be in their lives to support them, Gig Buddies introduces them to a new group of friends.

Who are Stay Up Late?

Stay Up Late was set up as a campaign organisation in 2006, born from the punk metal band, Heavy Load, who had band members with a learning disability.

They used to get crowds of people with a learning disability attend their gigs, but noticed a lot of the audience left by 9pm, to fit with the hours of support worker shifts. So, the band set up a campaign around making hours more flexible to allow people with a learning disability to be out after 9pm; to "stay up late".

In 2013 they set up Gig Buddies and the project solution to this, matching people with 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. 

Find out more at stayuplate.org.

What is the age group you work with?

This varies depending on site but is typically aimed at those aged 18-35.

This is because we want to reduce loneliness for  next generation of people with a learning disability and support them to have friendships and connections.

Who is the scheme aimed at?

Gig Buddies is aimed at those with a mild to moderate learning disability, particularly those who  who get little or no funded support as there is a risk that this group of people will be most at risk from social isolation.

Where can I take part in Gig Buddies?

Mencap currently have funding to run Gig Buddies in Bradford and East Ridings of Yorkshire.

However, we're looking for funding to be able to deliver the project in more areas.

Stay Up Late also currently run Gig Buddies in Brighton and East Sussex, and have other Gig Buddies in a Box sites in Calderdale, Portsmouth, Croydon, Edinburgh and Sydney. To find out more please visit: www.gigbuddies.org.uk/about.

Do volunteers get training?

Yes - all buddies go through the Gig Buddies training programme.

This generally takes a few hours and covers areas such as:

  • an introduction to learning disability
  • communication
  • safeguarding
  • 'what to do if' scenarios.

All volunteers must complete an Enhanced DBS check and we also ask for 2 references.

We also recommend that new pairs of buddies come to a social for their first gig together, we're on hand to provide any support too.

Who decides on the buddy?

The local Gig Buddies coordinator meets everyone who gets involved in the scheme (participants and volunteers) and will conduct an initial interview.

This will enable to them to make an informed decision about who to match with who.

The participant and volunteer will then be introduced to each other at a matching meeting led by the local Coordinator.

What if the pairing doesn't work out?

It's totally fine if a pairing doesn't work out.

We believe it is important to ensure that the person with a learning disability is in control of who their buddy is.

If it doesn't work out we'll offer support to see if there's something we can do to resolve the relationship, but on the rare occasions it doesn't work at all, we'll support you to find a new buddy.

How much does it cost?

Gig Buddies is a free service, but we expect participants to pay their gig ticket prices and travel costs.

We do reimburse volunteers for their expenses (we can reimburse gig tickets up to £10).

Is it all about music?


We encourage people to say what their interest is. That could be playing or watching sport, walking, going to theatre etc. However, the focus of this project is to support people to access mainstream evening based activities.

Whatever your interest, we'll aim to find a match!

Find out more

Take a look at our Gig Buddies webpage, or for more information contact gig.buddies@mencap.org.uk

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