'Gig Buddies' Building Bonds Beyond the World of Volunteering – Hope 103.2

‘Gig Buddies’ Building Bonds Beyond the World of Volunteering

“We’re very much a befriending project... We pair them up with a volunteer, based on mutual interests."

Listen: Chelsea Deeley from Gig Buddies Sydney talks to Sam Robinson during National Volunteer Week

By Georgia FreeTuesday 18 May 2021Hope BreakfastEntertainment

This week is National Volunteer Week and there are some incredible organisations doing impactful work around this city including Gig Buddies Sydney.

Gig Buddies makes live music gigs more accessible, through a personalised buddy program. Chelsea Deeley, NDIS coordinator for Gig Buddies Sydney, spoke to Hope Breakfast about the incredible work the organisation is doing, especially the volunteers that make it happen.

Gig Buddies is a program which pairs volunteers with adults with mild to moderate learning disabilities, to attend live music events or social outings together. 

“We’re very much a befriending project,” – Chelsea Deeley, NDIS coordinator for Gig Buddies Sydney

“We’re very much a befriending project. We work with adults with mild to moderate learning disabilities. We pair them up with a volunteer, based on mutual interests,” Chelsea said. 

Originally started in the UK by a band called Heavy Load, which had three band members with learning disabilities, Gig Buddies now has a strong presence in Sydney, and has recently expanded to the Central Coast. 

Like most of the country, Gig Buddies reverted to social outings over Zoom during the height of the pandemic. However, as live music has begun to trickle back into Sydney, there has been a renewed spotlight on the lack of accessibility of live music events, for the disabled community. Physical obstacles are rampant in older venues – stairs and lack of elevators are commonplace – but it is often unseen obstacles that fly under the radar. 

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“A lot of [participants] have sensory conditions which may prohibit them from going to gigs with flashing lights, or really loud, pulsating music,” Chelsea said.

“In terms of finding events that cater to everybody, it can be quite tricky.” 

Although a program like Gig Buddies wouldn’t run without volunteers, Chelsea was quick to point out that volunteers benefit just as much, if not more, than the participants.

“A lot of our volunteers are volunteering just because they want to make a difference in someone else’s life and want to give back to their community,” she said.

“But it’s also a really great way to extend their own social circles. Volunteers benefit just as much.

“It’s really wonderful to be a part of something that’s actually affecting change, and not just talking about it.”

To get involved in Gig Buddies, you can sign up at Gig Buddies Sydney or Gig Buddies Central Coast. Read more about Gig Buddies Sydney on Facebook or Instagram. Listen to Chelsea’s full chat with Hope 103.2’s Sam Robinson in the player above.