Gig Buddies Big Chat

Posted 05/04/2024

In March Gig Buddies members, volunteers and community partners met up to plan the future of Gig Buddies with Thera.

On Saturday 16th March we held our 2024 Gig Buddies Big Chat. This was a day where Gig Buddies members, volunteers, and community partners could get together and help plan the future of Gig Buddies. Our questions and conversations this year centred around the theme ‘Get Out to More Gigs’.

A photo of Gig Buddies members, volunteers, and friends sat around tables in conversation at the workshop day.

After a recap of what we got up to in 2023 (including running 115 socials and getting out to 6 festivals!) we started the ‘Big Chat’ with an open conversation with the whole group. We asked, ‘What do people enjoy about Gig Buddies?’.

Many people loved specific events, letting us know how much they enjoyed TRNSMT and other music festivals, and seeing their favourite bands such as Muse and Green Day. Other people told us how much they get out of the communal aspect of Gig Buddies saying they enjoyed larger joint events such as day long Edinburgh Festival celebrations and fundraising with the Kiltwalk. On a more personal level, some of our members told us why they like being part of Gig Buddies.

Robert, Gig Buddies Edinburgh member said:

I like Gig Buddies because I get to see things from outside my local area, like going across to Glasgow.

Neil, Gig Buddies Glasgow member said:

I like Gig Buddies because I get to see things outside of my usual interests.

Kirsty, Gig Buddies Glasgow member said:

I like Gig Buddies because they can sort out disabled access to events and I find it hard to book accessible tickets on my own.

Kirsty’s comment started a conversation about the barriers people face in getting out to more events. We split people into smaller groups to discuss the topic ‘What stops you getting out more?’.

A photo of a group of people discussing the topic ‘What stops you getting out more?’ and writing their answers down on a sheet of paper.

Lots of people in the room agreed on many of the same points; finance, transport, and inflexible support/not having people to go with came out as being huge barriers. People also told us about their need for longer term planning and this being difficult when they struggle to find out what’s happening in their local area, and often don’t hear about events until short notice.

Lack of understanding from venues around autism and learning disabilities also came up amongst several of our groups. Gig Buddies members spoke about the lack of accessible communication and information as a barrier to being able to find out about events, book tickets, and ultimately attend shows.

Many people agreed that Gig Buddies helps them access events they otherwise wouldn’t go. Members told us that they find it difficult to find out what’s happening in their local area, and when they do find something, it’s hard to book accessibility tickets on their own and that they’re not always sure how they can find disabled access information.

Talking about how being part of Gig Buddies enables people to access events, Kevin, a parent to Gig Buddies West Lothian member, Euan, told us this:

Gigs are better through Gig Buddies because they are accessible in all aspects.

While it’s fantastic to hear that Gig Buddies can indeed enable people to access more of the events they love, part of our mission is to work with venues and event organisers in building their confidence in welcoming people with additional support needs to their events, in turn enabling people to get out more independently.

Our next question to the group was ‘What can Gig Buddies/venues do to help you get out to more gigs?’.

A photo of a group of people discussing the topic ‘‘What can Gig Buddies/venues do to help you get out to more gigs?’ and writing their answers down on a sheet of paper.

An immediate answer that was given was ‘More welcoming staff who are properly trained are aware of mental health, autism and learning disabilities.’ This is something Gig Buddies is already supporting venues with through our Autism and Learning Disability Awareness Training (contact us at for more information).

On the venue focused side of the conversation, improved accessibility came through as people’s priority. Good venue information, early access to avoid queues, seating options, accepting cash payments, and more relaxed style performances were all suggestions given by Gig Buddies members.

In terms of how Gig Buddies can better support our members, people asked for more updates via social media and reminders via text and calls, regular print outs of our social calendars, easy read formatted information, helping people find out what’s on and where, and finding more volunteers/people to go to things with. This kind of feedback is vital for us as it tells us exactly what our members want us to focus on to help them get out more.

A photo of Gig Buddies Don and Kevin.

It wasn’t just Gig Buddies members and volunteers in attendance, we were also joined by some of our community partners from a range of local venues, festivals, and arts organisations. We invited these people along so that they could hear first hand from our members about the barriers people face, with the hope of them using this feedback to develop better access practices for their events.

Pete Deane from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra said:

It was a lovely afternoon and great to meet more folk and hear their thoughts on attending events.

Noelle Cobden from the Edinburgh International Book Festival said:

We are moving to a new festival venue this year, so hearing from your members about what helps them to have a good experience will really help our planning.

Joseph, Gig Buddies Edinburgh Member said

Disabled access is getting better, but it’s important to talk to people about what our barriers are. We can inspire people to inspire each other.

And that was a wrap on our Big Chat for 2024! If you want to read all the comments given on the day, along with what people favourite gigs have been and why, you can do so by clicking this link.

The conversation doesn’t have to end there though, head over to our Instagram page and leave us a comment about your favourite gig, your barriers to getting out more, or what you think venues or organisations like Gig Buddies can do to help! We hope you can join us for our next Big Chat in 2025.

A photo of the group of Gig Buddies stood together facing the camera.