Gig Buddies Receives 2 Years Continuation Funding to Continue to Tackle Social Isolation

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In March Gig Buddies Calderdale was pleased to receive 2 years continuation funding to expand the team and continue to tackle social isolation in Calderdale.

Gig Buddies Calderdale has been going strong since it launched as a pilot project in June 2017. Led by Gig Buddies and Engagement Coordinator Gemma Hailwood-McCallion, based at Square Chapel Arts Centre, Halifax, the aim was to try to address the barriers that prevent people with a learning disability accessing local arts and entertainment. The scheme has proved popular and as a result, has been awarded a two-year continuation fund of £46,000 from the Henry Smith Trust as well as continuation funding from Calderdale Council, to help expand the team and continue its work in the community. The project has also confirmed its very first ambassador – the stage and screen actor Darren Jeffries.

Gig Buddies Coordinator, Gemma Hailwood-McCallion said: “Gig Buddies has been a wonderful project to be involved with and has reached out to so many people who were otherwise isolated and bored in their homes. We’ve been able to go out into mainstream venues to enable people to have a great time in a safe environment, just like everybody else does! It’s been fabulous working with such a dedicated and fun group of volunteers without whom, the project would simply not have worked. I am excited to be expanding the team for Calderdale, to our quest to help people ‘Stay Up Late’. What is also hugely exciting about where we are now, is that we have our very first ambassador; Darren Jeffries has been along to some of our socials and has been a real hit! It’s great to hear that we are appealing to more and more people who can help us spread the word about Gig Buddies.

Stage and screen actor & Gig Buddies Ambassador, Darren Jeffries said: “It’s an honour and a privilege to be ambassador for Gig Buddies Calderdale. As a lover of live music, comedy and theatre, the idea of anyone being denied access to these life-affirming experiences because of circumstances beyond their control is frustrating and unfair. I’ll be supporting the Gig Buddies team every step of the way, as well as looking forward to plenty more memorable evenings with our brilliant Gig Buddies members.

Pioneered by Brighton-based Charity Stay Up Late, Gig Buddies connects people with a learning disability with volunteers who share a similar passion for entertainment, culture and live events; and supports them to access all the great events and gigs going on in the community.

Since the birth of Gig Buddies Calderdale, the scheme has matched over twenty-five pairs of buddies, held fifteen social events which have introduced over fifty people to the local entertainment scene, connecting people who may have otherwise missed out on the growing number of events that have been showcased in Calderdale over the past two years.

The funding, that has been awarded by the London based Henry Smith Trust and is being administered by the Calderdale Community Foundation, will enable the project to match even more pairs of buddies, increase the number of social events and expand the team by creating two new post to support the continued work.

The new roles include a Project Assistant and a Quality Checker, the latter being a role for a person with a learning disability. This will enable the team to ensure the work being done and the way in which it’s being doing done, is accessible to the people it seeks to engage with.

The Gig Buddies initiative is funded by Adult Health and Social Care, The Henry Smith Trust as well as the West Yorkshire Business Consortium. The partnership with Square Chapel Arts Centre, Calderdale Council and the Brighton based charity Stay Up Late will continue for a further two years.

For anyone wanting more information about Gig Buddies Calderdale or to become a ‘Gig Buddy’, please contact Gemma Hailwood-McCallion gemma@squarechapel.co.uk, or call 01422 353073.