Throughout September you've heard from a number of buddies, all of whom have shared their own Gig Buddies’ story.
Matthew: How long have you been paired together?
Emma: Can you remember, Rae?
Rae: Yes, I do remember - since the beginning of the year.
Emma: Yes, so about nine months now.
Matthew: So when you were paired, was that inside or outside our first Covid lockdown?
Emma: I think we were lucky to be paired before lockdown, so we were able to meet each other in person and have a few in-person catch ups.
Matthew: Please tell us about some of your in-person catch ups.
Emma: So we started off catching up at Holey Moley, and that was really fun.
Rae: Yes, that one was actually my favourite.
Emma: Yes, we took some really funny pictures (see below).
Emma: We also went to a comedy show.
Rae: Yes, that one was good, too. I loved that, that was at Moore Park (at the Comedy Store).
Emma: And we saw the Priscilla, Queen of the Desert musical.
Rae: Yes, that one was also good - I really liked that. I also liked it when we did the tenpin bowling.
Matthew: Considering we’ve been in lockdown for half the year, and you’ve been paired up for nine months, you’ve both done a lot together.
Emma: Yes, we got straight into it!
Matthew: So what’s the best thing you’ve done together?
Rae: So the best thing I’ve done with Emma…. I’ve liked all our outings we’ve done, even though I would say my favourite was Holey Moley.
Emma: And that was our first one, so I think it was pretty exciting getting to meet each other.
Matthew: Were you nervous when you met each other at that first gig?
Rae: No, I wasn’t nervous, I was just having so much fun.
Emma: No, I wasn’t nervous either because we had already met before at Rae’s house and we knew that we got along well, so we were just both excited to be there.
Matthew: So you’re relatively new to the project, Emma, whereas Rae you’ve been with us for a long time and you’ve had a couple of buddies. Can you tell us about some of your other Gig Buddies’ experiences?
Rae: I have had two other buddies. We did have fun together and then I moved on and got Emma, so I’m really excited for that!
Matthew: So you’ve had three buddies Rae, have you been to any of our group events, Emma?
Emma: I haven’t yet. I was so looking forward to the Retro Mania Disco (at Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club in June). We had tickets and we were so excited!
Emma: And then unfortunately Covid happened so we were unable to go. But I am really looking forward to going to some events after lockdown.
"…I really wanted to get involved, give back to my community and, most importantly, make some new friends”
Matthew: And you’ve been to some of our group events, haven’t you Rae?
Rae: I liked the Gig Buddies 4th birthday (at the Vanguard, Newtown).
Matthew: That’s right, we hired the balcony for an 80s event.
Rae: That was another favourite.
Matthew: So would you say you’ve made new friends from your involvement with Gig Buddies?
Rae: Yes I have. I’ve made plenty of new friends - many of my friends also do Gig Buddies. Many of those friends are amazing, and I’ve been telling others about Gig Buddies.
Matthew: And have you had a chance to meet anyone else, Emma, apart from Rae?
Emma: Unfortunately I haven't. I did meet another volunteer during the training, which was nice. But apart from Rae I haven't met anyone else yet because I haven't gone to any of the big Gig Buddies get-togethers. But I am keen to meet others in the future.
Matthew: We are getting requests from buddies and volunteers about what we’re going to be doing post-lockdown. We get asked ‘are we having a Christmas party?’ a lot, and in an ideal world we will do something big. It would be amazing to cram in one big gathering before the end of year, but we have to live within the government guidelines - whatever they may be.
Matthew: So Emma, why do you volunteer with Gig Buddies?
Emma: I chose to volunteer with Gig Buddies because I found I was experiencing more social isolation during last year’s lockdown, and it made me reflect on people who may feel socially isolated more than me or all of the time - so I really wanted to get involved, give back to my community and, most importantly, make some new friends.
Matthew: We are hearing that more than ever from volunteers, that social isolation impacts all and lockdown has amplified that for everyone.
"This list keeps getting bigger!”
Matthew: And how about you Rae, why did you become part of Gig Buddies?
Rae: I would definitely say to make new friends - and I have done that along the way.
Matthew: And have you been to new places having been part of Gig Buddies, Rae?
Rae: I went the comedy for the first time and saw Nick Cody’s show.
Matthew: Was that the comedy gig that you went to together?
Matthew: Nick Cody is hilarious! Who’s idea was that?
Emma: I think I we both chose together.
Rae: Yes we did, we chose at one of our sushi picnic outings. That was really fun - and then we discussed going to see Nick Cody at the Comedy Festival and Moore Park.
Matthew: Was the sushi picnic something you did with just the two of you?
Rae: Yes, and I may have forgotten to add that on my list as that was another thing we did.
Matthew: This list keeps getting bigger! Would you go back to comedy again, Rae?
Rae: Yes, I would consider it - I love comedy.
Matthew: Pre lockdown we used to go to loads of Sydney Comedy Festival events - and they were brilliant. We found that so many buddies had a love for comedy but had never been to a stand up gig, and it got a bit awkward at times because nobody sits in the front row of a comedy gig because you’re going to get heckled, but when we went as a group everyone wanted to sit at the front! And people inevitably got heckled.
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?
Emma: I say definitely get involved, it’s so much fun and you can definitely make some new friends.
Rae: For me, I would say if you’re new to Gig Buddies I would definitely recommend giving it a try.
Matthew: Why do you feel the Gig Buddies program is needed?
Emma: I think it’s needed for people who might be feeling a little bit lonely and might want to reach out and make some new friends. Or for people who want to try new experiences.
Rae: I have to agree with Emma’a comment.
Matthew: I think it’s a valid point that Emma has made and I can understand why you would agree: it’s all about meeting new friends, trying new things - and I think Emma answered that question brilliantly.
Matthew: How have you been communicating during the lockdown period?
Rae: By texting each other.
Emma: Yes, we’ve been communicating by text but we’ve also had a Zoom call together where we did some drawings, and we also went on a walk together.
Matthew: Where was your walk?
Rae: We went to a local cafe in my area and we bought a coffee and afternoon tea.
Matthew: And the drawing class, was that as part of the Gig Buddies online art classes or something you two did yourselves?
Emma: We actually did that one ourselves.
Rae: Yes, it was a fun online art session. I still have two of the drawings from it.
Matthew: Have you discussed the first gig after lockdown?
Rae: We won the Gig Buddies photo of the month competition (for the picture from our outing to the Priscilla, Queen of the Desert musical) so we actually need to organise something and go. We haven’t figured that bit out yet.
Emma: Yes, and we have talked about maybe wanting to go on a picnic, maybe next week now that we’re allowed to have outside picnics. But you’re right Rae, we want to spend our money from the photo competition - and we have talked about maybe going to a professional art class. Or maybe pottery.
Matthew: I love that you two are still catching up, despite the obvious challenges of lockdown, and you have that ‘big gig’ still to plan because of the prize money you both won.
Emma: I have loved being part of Gig Buddies and meeting Rae has been the best part of it.
Rae: I would say the same thing for you too, Emma.
Matthew: I can tell, just by the way you two bounce off each other that you’re both very happy.
Rae: Yes, it’s lovely!
The idea behind the ‘month of buddies’ series was to share some personal examples of what Gig Buddies stands to achieve: to tackle social isolation and create new friendships. By reaching out to our established community we hope their stories have acted as a reminder of the positives that have been achieved in the past - and what we have to look forward to in the future.
With lockdown restrictions due to ease on October 11, we feel this message couldn't be more timely.
I would like to personally acknowledge those who took part in our ‘month of buddies’ series: Ricky, Simon, Matt, Jenna, Nicole, Vivienne, Rae and Emma - thank you all for joining me on Zoom and for sharing your perspective on the Gig Buddies project.
The volunteer appreciation Sunday session
To celebrate the forthcoming long weekend we invite you to join us online for the following three musical offerings:
Kicking off your long labour weekend, we bring you our ‘teens takeover’. Join us on Friday night as we party to the hits from 2010 - 2020.
One day later and we’ll be live streaming via the Gig Buddies Sydney Facebook page. House music is the order of the night - get ready to dim the lights and crank up the speakers for our Saturday night DJ doof. The party starts at 8pm.
And, to round off The Gig Buddies Weekender, we bring you a ‘volunteer appreciation Sunday session’.
We’re absolutely indebted to our wonderful volunteers and, to say thank you for all their efforts, we’re bringing you another live session from the Gig Buddies Sydney Facebook page - this time serving up the acoustic sounds of Ken Doh.
Our volunteer appreciation Sunday session starts at 4.30pm and will be wrapped up time for the NRL Grand Final.
In addition to our three musical events, we also invite buddies to connect with us online for our weekly chats. They take place today and tomorrow, starting at 4pm. To attend get in touch via text: 0422 061 990 or Facebook Messenger.
And to find out more about this week’s online offerings (and to sign up), load up the links below:
Friday 1 October
Saturday 2 October
Sunday 3 October
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: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or call/SMS us on 0402 708 814.
Roll up, roll up
This is your last chance to be in the running to win a $100 gift voucher - our ‘cook and win’ competition closes this Thursday (30/9).
If you like cooking or baking, we’re calling on you to get creative in the kitchen and upload a photo or video of your culinary delights - much like Bevan (below).
We’ve had some wonderful entries so far. For more information on our ‘cook and win’ competition, including how to upload your photos or videos, click on the following link.
Back in a fortnight
Due to the forthcoming long weekend we’ll now be taking a two week break from blogging. The newsletter will return on Monday 11 October.
A word from the pros
But before we go, we want to share with you information about a number of professional services for any of you doing it tough during lockdown.
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.
reachout.com have also released their 10 ways to take care of yourself during coronavirus guide, while for those of you now working from home, Black Dog Institute have put together the following checklist to support your mental health.
We’re here to chat
From our perspective, while we’re not trained professionals, we are available for a chat.
For anyone experiencing increased social isolation, send a text or call us at 0402 708 814 (Gig Buddies Central Coast) or 0422 061 990 (Gig Buddies Sydney).
Gig Buddies Central Coast coordinator
Would you like more information about Gig Buddies Central Coast? You’re only a click away. Connect with us via the links below.
Fancy revelling in legendary status? If so, please support us in our cause to get more people out to live events in Sydney.
Donations over $2 are tax deductible and all are gratefully received.
Gig Buddies Central Coast is an initiative of ACL Disability Services.