Sam, Project Manager for Gig Buddies, tells us how they have been successfully running their events online!

I have been the Project Manager for Gig Buddies in association with Thera since 2016. At Gig Buddies we enable adults with a learning disability to live an active social life. We do this by pairing members to like minded volunteers to enjoy their shared passions together! We also work with a wide range of venues and arts organisations to make local events more welcoming for people with a learning disability.

At the end of March, we had to take Gig Buddies online. We usually spend our time going to gigs, theatre shows, or just down the pub, but that wasn’t possible anymore. We started running loads of online events and connecting our members through Facebook and Zoom. Our members had so many great ideas as to what they wanted to do! As a result, we soon started having regular DJ Nights with a team of fantastic Gig Buddies DJ’s, watching online concerts, hosting Gig Buddies Bake Offs, and so much more!

All year we’ve been really keen to have our members take control of Gig Buddies as much as possible. We’re really proud that over 50% of our winter events are led by our members. Our staff are just there to have fun!

To get to this point we’ve hosted zoom workshops and trained our members on how to run their own events. Some people have learnt how to run their own DJ event, while others just want to run a crafting chat. Whatever events our members want to host, we want to offer the recourses they need to make it happen.

My highlight this year was our Gig Buddies Dream Festival. This was a 3 day (32 hours) online music festival that we created with our members. It featured performances from peoples dream festival line ups, guests talks from outside organisations, quizzes, craft sessions, and even a nightly cocktail hour! We were even able to create festival packs that we sent to members. These featured Dream Festival wristbands and lanyard, along with a festival programme and some Gig Buddies badges. The full festival experience, from the comfort of your own home!

We’ve seen our role this year as enabling as many people as possible to stay connected with their social group. This has brought its own unique challenges. One of these has been access to the internet. We were able to get tablets and wifi hotspots out to a few of our members to enable them to get connected online and to join our events. We put together guides on how to use the technology, and for a brief period over the summer, I was able to visit people in person to help them with this.

You can get involved with Gig Buddies online events (you don’t have to be a member!) by asking to join our facebook group –

Check out our winter newsletter here –

Find out more about Gig Buddies with Thera here – 

Donate to Thera to support people with a learning disability to live the life they choose: