Gwen and Mary – Gig Buddies

Gwen and Mary – Gig Buddies

Gwen and Mary are Gig Buddies!

Gig Buddies for Good Mental Health is part of the Synergy Creative community whose aim is to improve mental health and well-being through peer support, creative arts, art and music workshops and nutrition. The Gig Buddies project was set up to enable adults with low to medium mental health challenges to enjoy live music and other cultural events, pairing them up with a like-minded volunteer to enjoy the gig with.

Mary started volunteering as a gig buddy in October 2019. “I have recently been diagnosed with autism and am a full-time carer to my autistic son. These factors meant that at the time of becoming a gig buddy I was spending almost all my time either caring for my son or in self isolation. Gig Buddies provides a way for me to get out, go to concerts and help somebody less able than myself to do the same.”

Gwen has deteriorating eyesight and can no longer get to concerts on her own. This had impacted on her mental health as she was feeling low and depressed. Her daughter suggested Gig Buddies, but Gwen was initially uncertain. “I like classical music and didn’t think it was really for me.”

Gwen and Mary hit it off immediately when they first met, accompanied by Jo from Gig Buddies. This initial meeting is an important part of the matching process to ensure the buddies have common ground and understand the rules and boundaries of gigging together.

Mary then found a classical music event at the Brighton Dome that would appeal to them both, and they attended together. Mary could describe what she was seeing to Gwen. In effect, to be her eyes, which she found hugely rewarding. “Because of my background as a carer to my son and previous wealth of experience in nursing I found it easy to help Gwen negotiate pavements, get in and out of cars and find her seat.”

Gwen also enjoyed the experience: “Going to a concert is so much more pleasurable and atmospheric than listening to music on a CD at home, and it’s wonderful to be able to share the experience with someone.”

With future concert plans put on hold due to the pandemic, Mary and Gwen have kept in touch by phone. “We both feel there is a strong connection and that we will definitely go out to gigs again when that becomes okay in the world.” Gwen is looking forward to it: “it really helps to take your mind off things and your problems.”

Mary acknowledges that volunteering is beneficial for her self-confidence and feelings of self-worth. However, her favourite aspect of her volunteer role is spending time with Gwen. “She has had a lot of life experience. She is a lovely, interesting person and she makes me laugh. She is very easy to be around and I love knowing that because I turn up, she can go out.”

Mary also highly recommends volunteering for Gig Buddies. “They really look after and value all their volunteers. They take time to match you up with the right buddy and train you to be volunteer ready. Jo has been there for me every step of the way. She is genuinely interested in me as a person and I feel seen, heard and valued by her.”

“We both feel there is a strong connection and that we will definitely go out to gigs again when that becomes okay in the world.”

“We both feel there is a strong connection and that we will definitely go out to gigs again when that becomes okay in the world.”

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