25 Ways Thera has made an Impact – Gig Buddies with Thera Trust

Posted 16/02/2024

Gig Buddies with Thera Trust plays an important role in our local communities as we are connecting members with their local community. Read this blog to find out more about how Gig Buddies with Thera Trust is making an impact.

Gig Buddies with Thera Trust is a project focused on helping people with additional support needs to get out to more events they love. This can be gigs, festivals, or even just going to the pub! Gig Buddies focuses on helping people to build friendships and social lives that they may find more difficult to do.

The Gig Buddies model began in Brighton under the Stay Up Late banner, and was formed by two punk rockers who realised that people with support needs were not attending late night gigs. The success of Stay Up Late caused Gig Buddies to take off and there are now multiple organisations across the country. Gig Buddies with Thera Trust, based in Edinburgh, was started in 2016.

Seeing it’s success and recognising the benefits it could have elsewhere in Scotland, Gig Buddies West Lothian was launched in 2017 with the support of West Lothian Council and Gig Buddies Glasgow was started in 2019 with funding from the National Lottery Fund.

Gig Buddies work on a pairing model which helps adults with a learning disability to live an active social life. They pair members with like minded volunteers who are able to enjoy their shared interests together. Their model is built to become self sustaining, and gives people the confidence to access their own community. They also work with venues and organisations within the arts space to make local events more accessible, and welcoming, for people.

As of 2023 Gig Buddies with Thera Trust has 176 members around Edinburgh, Glasgow, and West Lothian. They have 64 volunteers and have created 56 pairings. They are continuing to grow and contribute to local communities. In 2022 they looked at member feedback to gauge the success they were having. They found:

  • 84% have made new friends through Gig Buddies
  • 89% feel their social life has improved thanks to Gig Buddies
  • 89% have gone to new places with Gig Buddies
  • 78% feel confident going to those places without Gig Buddies
  • 96% enjoy being a Gig Buddies member
  • 80% feel more confident going out since joining Gig Buddies

Gig Buddies have built partnerships with organisations such as The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, The Scottish National Orchestra, and The National Theatre of Scotland. In recent years they have gone on trips to festivals such as TRNSMT and Doune The Rabbit Hole.

Gig Buddies with Thera Trust allows people to attend events, build friendships, and access their community in ways they would not feel comfortable doing before they joined Gig Buddies.

Debbie Forsythe, Project Coordinator for Gig Buddies West Lothian, spoke with us about how important it is to build a social life in your community:

Gig Buddies plays an important role in our local communities as we are connecting members with their local community in a way that didn’t exist before we created the links. We have been able to build relationships with venues and local artists, and the benefits are easy to see. We have members going along to venues without our support. I love my job, there are times when it doesn’t feel like work, who could ask for better than that.

Read about the Gig Buddies with Thera Trust’s busiest summer ever!

Gig Buddies Edinburgh at Doune the Rabbit Hole festival