With lockdown continuing and very little news of buddy outings to share, we’ve reached out to our established community south of the Hawkesbury.
Throughout the month of September you’re going to hear from a number of paired Sydney buddies, all of whom will share their own unique Gig Buddies’ story.
From a Central Coast perspective, we want to showcase the ways in which established buddies connected pre-lockdown and how - amidst the ongoing restrictions - they’re continuing to engage with the Gig Buddies community.
Our ‘month of buddies’ series begins with Simon and Ricky (above, L - R).
Matthew: How long have you been paired together?
Ricky: just over two years now.
Simon: Yeah, about two and a bit years now. And we celebrated our two year anniversary on our first year, because we thought it was two years - and not the first year.
Matthew: You were having such a good time you lost count?
Simon: Yes! Time flies when you’re having so much fun.
Matthew: Tell us about some of your gig buddying experiences
Simon: The silent disco (at Centre Point Tower) was a cool thing. I’ve never been to a silent disco, so that was an eye-opener.
Ricky: Yes, that was great. We’ve also done ‘drive-thru’ movies. We’ve done loads of quizzes together.
Simon: We also did a quiz with Gig Buddies (80's Trivia at The Juniors Kingsford in June) before we went into lockdown.
Matthew: What’s the best thing you’ve done together?
Ricky: I’d probably say (when) we went to Holy Moley with a whole bunch of people - that was really great. As was the tenpin bowling (we did as a group).
Simon: That was cool. We’ve done Holey Moley twice. We organised both events with ‘the gang’. For me I liked the silent disco because I hadn’t done it before. The bowling was also good. I need to put in a disclaimer that Ricky is a semi-professional bowler and I beat him! (However) the Hallowe’en party (picture below) was my funnest night out…
Matthew: So ‘the gang’ is a group of fellow gig buddies?
Ricky: Yes, it's just us organising outings ourselves.
Simon: We had 10 or 12 join us for the first trip and about three or four pairs for the second (outing to Holey Moley). And tenpin bowling was a big group, there were about 10 people there.
"Having those common interests really helps”
Matthew: So you’ve made new friends from your involvement with Gig Buddies?
Ricky: Yeah, absolutely. We’ve met so many people. Whenever we want to plan something there’s a connection and we think “let’s all get together”.
Simon: Yes (I’ve also made new friends). I mean Ricky has so many friends - and I am one of many. We like to do the group events. For me it’s nice to mix in with the other volunteers and hang out with different people. I’ve got two friends who have now become buddies (volunteers), which is good.
Ricky: Some people might think that just because you’re paired with this buddy it means you can’t go out and reach out to other buddies, and expand your group (of friends).
Simon: I totally agree. I spoke to some volunteers who I would say are a bit more introverted and they’ve used Gig Buddies as a way for them to connect with likeminded people as well.
Matthew: So Ricky, why did you become part of Gig Buddies?
Ricky: I guess I wanted to expand my friendship circle and have some ‘guy time’. (I wanted to) hangout and do a whole bunch of things that sometimes you might be able to do. Having those common interests really helps.
Simon: Yes, even though you’re a Manchester United fan, which disgusts me!
Ricky: Excuse me, Mr Liverpool supporter! When you interviewed Simon did you check these credentials?
Matthew: We’ve never made a pairing based on English football teams. A few years ago we had a buddy say ‘I don’t want a volunteer who’s a Manly (Sea Eagles) fan’ though.
Simon: Most people put that, don’t they?!
Matthew: And what about you Simon, why do you volunteer with Gig Buddies?
Simon: Similar to Rick, I just wanted to broaden my network. I also wanted to give back more to Sydney and people in the community who might benefit. I had time and energy…. mine was a ‘bit of a purpose thing’, I wanted to add more purpose.
And I had experience while at university of working with people with disabilities, and I never stopped thinking about it - so this was obvious to me to do something like this.
"Once you join you’ll meet people”
Matthew: We’re new on the Central Coast, what would you say to people based in the area who were thinking of joining Gig Buddies?
Ricky: I would say definitely join. Once you join you’ll meet people, then one will become two and two becomes ten and your social group expands so much. If you’re finding it really hard to meet new people (Gig Buddies) is such a great idea.
Simon: Why wouldn’t you join, really?! If you want to have a bit of fun and grow your (social) circle it’s an obvious thing to do….
Matthew: Do you think you two would have crossed paths if it wasn’t for Gig Buddies?
Ricky: Probably not, because (we have) different lifestyles. I feel that Gig Buddies brings together a whole range of people and that’s just based on your interests. At the end of the day you feel like once your’re sitting down and doing things together there’s no longer this thing of ‘you have the disability, I don’t have the disability’. It’s just people hanging out.
Simon: Yes, 100%. It gives people with different backgrounds a common ground - and you’re all equal.
Matthew: How have you been communicating during the lockdown period?
Ricky: Mainly through Facebook or we’ve done a few Kahoot! quizzes - they’ve been really good. Every so often we’ll pop a message to each other and we’ll say hello.
Simon: We do chat on Messenger, but I’ll be transparent: I do get busy with video calls at the moment so there is a little bit of ‘video fatigue’. But we’ve both done a few Kahoots! together. When we’re allowed to meet up (possibly in September) we’ll probably do so in Centennial Park.
Matthew: Have you discussed the first gig after lockdown?
Simon: This is probably the first time we’ve thought about it - it’s hard to keep up to speed with all the changes! The positive is that we’re close (to meeting vaccination targets).
Ricky: It’s nice to know there’s an opportunity (coming up) to have a bit of freedom.
Our ‘month of buddies’ series returns next Monday. Thanks to Ricky and Simon for sharing their story.
We continue to offer buddies the opportunity to connect with us and others online. This week, in addition to our two weekly chats, we bring you the following gigs:
It all starts tonight for our father’s day catch up, after which we host an online art class on Wednesday.
We then take on a British flavour, providing buddies the chance to join us for a virtual tour of London’s National Gallery on Thursday night. We then round off the working week with a Rollin’ Stones tribute show on Friday.
If you would like to come along to one of our weekly chats, get in touch via text: 0422 061 990
And to find out more about this week’s online offerings (and to sign up), load up the links below:
All online games will take place via Zoom. For information on how to use Zoom, load up the following easy read guide written by Learning Disability Wales. Alternatively, click here to check out our 'how to use Zoom' video.
If you have any questions or would like more information, send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or call/SMS us on 0402 708 814.
Cook and win
Would you like to win a $100 gift voucher? Do you like cooking or baking? If so, read on…..
Our ‘cook and win’ competition continues - and we’re calling on buddies to get creative in the kitchen and upload a photo or video of their handiwork - much like Bevan (below).
For more information, including how to upload your entries, load up the following link.
And the winner is…..
Congratulations to Julia, winner of our LOLympics competition. Her ‘heavy workout’ video took out the top prize and she has won a $100 gift card voucher.
Silver medal and a $50 voucher goes to Karen, while Nalyn takes home bronze and picks up a $25 gift card.
Thank you to everyone who entered - and congratulations to our top three. We’ll be in touch with our winners to talk prizes.
We want to bring to your attention the work of IncludeAbility, an initiative of the Australian Human Rights Commission developed to increase meaningful employment opportunities for people with disability, and to close the gap in workforce participation between people with disability and people without disability.
Almost 1 in 5 people in Australia has a disability, and the labour force participation rate for people with disability aged between 15-64 years is 53.4% compared with 84.1% of people with the same age without disability.
The IncludeAbility website, accessible here, includes links to resources for employers and for people with disability.
'Are they really OK? Ask them today'
This forthcoming Thursday (9/9) marks R U OK Day?
We at Gig Buddies fully endorse this year’s message from the people behind the R U OK Day? movement: “Are they really OK? Ask them today”.
And we also echo the following statement on their website: “Life’s ups and downs happen to all of us. So chances are someone you know might be struggling. Your genuine support can make a difference whatever they are facing, big or small.
So, don’t wait until someone’s visibly distressed or in crisis. Make a moment meaningful and ask them how they’re really going.
Are they really OK? Ask them today. Your conversation could change a life."
While we’ll continue in our efforts to do so, we call on the Gig Buddies community to also check in with each other.
A word from the pros
In addition to the R U OK Day? post above, we continue to promote additional professional services for anyone doing it tough.
Mental Health First Aid Australia have issued the following guidelines on assisting someone distressed by the Covid-19 pandemic, and they’re also providing mental health first aid in the time of ‘social distancing. Additionally, the team from ideas.org.au have shared their ‘look after your mental health in the COVID-19 crisis’ list of ideas.