Banbury volunteers needed for buddy scheme

A charity is looking for volunteers to become Gig Buddies for people who struggle to find others to socialise with.
Volunteer Dawn with her buddy CharleneVolunteer Dawn with her buddy Charlene
Volunteer Dawn with her buddy Charlene

The Gig Buddies charity began life in Brighton as a way for people to experience live music together who might not ordinarily have the opportunity. It has now expanded to include almost any social activity you can name.

Yazz Davies, coordinator for the Banbury area, said: "We work mainly with adults with learning disabilities.

"So quite often people have support workers only for certain number of hours of the day and then after that, they're kind of stuck at home.

"There's all sorts of statistics and research about how bad being socially isolated and lonely and stuck at home and not able to do social things can be.

The charity also works with a number of other charities who may also have lonely and vulnerable users looking for company and social engagement.

Yazz said: "We also work with Age UK and Restore, the mental health charity, and we take referrals from both of those. People who are supported by those charities, similarly, struggle to get out."

Gig Buddies works by pairing volunteers with users who share similar interests be it live music, football matches, shopping trips or even going to the gym together. All the charity asks is one hour or so a month.

Yazz said: "It could be an afternoon or an evening, its very flexible, it can fit in with whatever people's commitments are. If someone is free on a Thursday morning we could probably match them with someone for then.

"New volunteers spend an afternoon with me and we ask for two references and a DBS check."

Benefits are not, of course, confined to the users of the charity as volunteers get to take part in Gig Buddie events such as a Banbury pub crawl in January, often get free or discounted tickets and themselves get to socialise.

Volunteer Pam Beddington said: It's important to get out and socialize with other people otherwise you can get lonely and stuck at home all the time.

"I joined Gig Buddies because I like to help other people get out and socialize like I can. I've got a lot from the Gig Buddies project.

"By going out to different events and supporting people to have fun, I have gained in confidence. I would highly recommend volunteering for this project."

Jennifer French, Gig Buddy beneficiary added: "I don't feel confident going out by myself. One of my sons works night and the other one works away. My husband recently passed away and at the moment I am stuck indoors all the time.

"I found out about Gig Buddies from Restore, the mental health charity. I joined the project to meet other people and make new friends. I am looking forward to trying some new activities."

To volunteer or find out more about the scheme email Yazz at [email protected] or visit the My Life My Choice website.