Gig Buddies Portsmouth scheme keeps volunteers and people with learning disabilities in contact through self-isolation

A SCHEME pairing up adults with learning disabilities and volunteers with similar interests is keeping friendship alive through their time in self-isolation.

Friday, 27th March 2020, 3:39 pm
Updated Friday, 27th March 2020, 8:18 pm
Gig Buddies Portsmouth, a free scheme funded by Portsmouth City Council pairing up adults with learning disabilities and volunteers with similar interests, is keeping people connected throughout self-isolation

Gig Buddies Portsmouth, a free scheme funded by Portsmouth City Council, aims to reduce social isolation and help people make new friends to enjoy events with.

During the coronavirus situation, the 35 matched pairs of buddies are staying in touch through a variety of ways, including a number of messenger groups off and online.

Many are staying in contact via telephone to keep positive and ensure the buddies have sufficient interaction with the outside world, while staying fit and healthy.

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Gig Buddies Portsmouth, a free scheme funded by Portsmouth City Council pairing up adults with learning disabilities and volunteers with similar interests, is keeping people connected throughout self-isolation

One of the buddies has devised a quiz for the social media page and there is live music streaming each evening from Gig Buddies projects in different regions all around the globe.

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Mike Harris, project co-ordinator, said: ‘In the current climate, it is important for the Gig Buddies to know we care and support them to keep safe but also have fun whether they are at home alone or with loved ones; knowing someone cares is so important right now to all of us.’

The scheme was established in the city in 2017, and currently has around 100 adults with a learning disability or autism on the Gig Buddy database who often come along to the numerous monthly group events such as bowling, club nights and live music events.

Gig Buddies Portsmouth has made a huge impact on the people it supports in the community, and has had some great feedback.

One of the mums whose daughter uses the service said: ‘Since our daughter has become involved with Gig Buddies it has put her in touch with her peers, which is something she lacked previously.

‘The main facilitators of this are Mike Harris and Alison, the wonderful Gig Buddy, whose friendship and involvement with our daughter has, without exaggerating, made a very positive impact on her, and our, lives.

‘Basically, our 46-year-old daughter now has a social life that is not solely dependent and restricted to her parents’ activities, and she is a much happier person as a consequence.’

For more information, contact project coordinator Mike Harris on [email protected] or visit aldingbournetrust.org/gigbuddiesportsmouth.