Throughout the month of September you’ll continue to hear from some of our paired buddies, all of whom will share their own unique Gig Buddies' story.
Matthew: How long have you been paired together?
Vivienne: Well we think it’s been a couple of years…. I couldn't tell you precisely. I think it must have been towards the end of the latter part of 2018.
Nicole: Yes, I think you could be right.
Matthew: So over two years, maybe?
Vivienne: Yes, over two years - you could say that. But it’s been very dominated by the pandemic.
Matthew: Tell us about some of your gig buddying experiences
Nicole: I have met Viv’s daughter, Georgina (another volunteer with the project). I’ve been out with Georgina and her gig buddy, Lily.
Matthew: That’s an interesting that you mention Georgina. We’re big on buddies meeting others and the extended family. Tell us about that
Nicole: It’s been great, absolutely lovely. When Viv hasn’t been available I have gone out with Georgina and Lily. We went to Cockatoo Island for the (Gig Buddies) birthday. I have never been there before.
Vivienne: Because it’s been pandemic, pandemic, pandemic we haven’t had the chance to go to the cinema or anything. We keep talking about going to some soppy love story movie, but we haven’t been able to. So most of our encounters are walking. We do lots of walking. There’s a community garden nearby, I’ve got a garden bed down there and I’ve taken Nicole. We enjoy our coffee, we walk around Centennial Park, we go to the city.
“Oh my gosh, we did have that great Lindt Cafe experience, which we still dwell on! Something which I’ll never forget, some ghastly great big triple chocolate flavoured big drink. We both ordered the same thing and we both sat there going “this is sublime!” I’ll dream of that on my death bed I think!”
Nicole: Yes, that’s right. We then went to the State Library across the road.
Vivienne: Yes, there was an exhibition of National Geographic photographs. It was such fun - I just have a great time with Nicole! She laughs at my jokes, which are always really bad. I’ve also taken Nicole to meet with some of my other friends and they all say the same thing, “yes, Nicole laughs at our jokes!”
“Nicole just gets on with my friends so it’s terribly easy. It’s just another mate.”
Matthew: That’s so important.
Nicole: Yes, I love meeting new people.
Matthew: And you went for a walk on Saturday, is that right?
Nicole: Yes. We went to Paddington Markets.
Vivienne: One of the few things that is actually open, we went to the fruit and vegetable markets. Nicole helped me lug bits and pieces and we bought a plant for her mum. We spent a while trawling through the beautiful plants - those things are fun to do.
Matthew: What’s the best thing you’ve done together?
Nicole: Personally I would say all of it!
Vivienne: It all has been, but that chocolate drink at Lindt! Given the fact that we haven’t been to any big ballets or movies or anything (due to the pandemic), it’s just all the personal interactions.
Matthew: So do you think you’ll go back to Lindt Cafe?
Vivienne: Yes, we think that might be our next thing. Because we can only go to things within our zone. We’re also really well located, it couldn't be more convenient.
"…. I wanted to find somebody to take part in things I like”
Matthew: Have you made new friends from your involvement with Gig Buddies?
Vivienne: We went to the Christmas party together (at the Dog Hotel, Randwick). Extraordinarily enough we sat at a table with someone else and because we didn’t know each other we started talking about where we come from, and I said: “You wouldn’t know it, I come from a small country town”, and she said: “So do I”. I asked her where she comes from and she asked me, and we both said: “Cooma”. It turns out we both came from the same town and I know all her parents, aunts and uncles and I knew her grandmother. That was just amazing!
I would like to do some more social events. I did do one online with Georgina. It was ok, it’s hard to interact that way. I prefer the in-person social events if possible. I mean it’s easy this way, just three of us but when there are about 30 people all wanting to say something it’s not that easy.
Matthew: You’re right. I host lots of online quizzes and sometimes I come away and need a lie down afterwards. Sometimes we have 50 people all talking, and on occasions I like to press the “mute all” button!
“I wouldn’t change it for the world!"
Matthew: Nicole, why did you become part of Gig Buddies?
Nicole: So I wanted to find somebody to take part in things I like. I wanted to find somebody to go out with and have some fun with. And I’ve got that.
Matthew: And how about you Viv, why do you volunteer with Gig Buddies?
(We saw a news feature about Gig Buddies) on the ABC 7.30 Report and my daughter and I thought: “Wouldn’t that be a great thing to do.” I’ve worked in the arts sector for a long time so I love going to theatre, to plays, to films and I thought it would be great to go with someone else. So we put our names forward and we met with Bec (from the Gig Buddies team).
Matthew: And what about being paired with Nicole?
Vivienne: It couldn't be better! Nicole couldn't be a better gig buddy! Apart from the practical fact that she’s just around the corner, but we have things in common. I wouldn’t swap my gig buddy for anyone.
Nicole: Thank you!
Vivienne: The other thing of having a gig buddy, and it goes equally for me as I hope it does for Nicole, I think when we have some issues we can discuss them wth each other. I know my role with Nicole is not social worker or counsellor but it's just good to bounce ideas sometimes if you have an issue with another member of the family. You can talk those things over and it’s great to have someone who you can do that with.
Nicole: I agree, very much so.
Matthew: We talk about the role of the volunteer, and it’s not about being a support worker - it’s about two mates catching up and having fun. But it’s also building those connections and feeling comfortable opening up - and you’ve done that. You’ve both met each other’s family, and Nicole you feel comfortable going out with Georgina and Lily. You are walking Gig Buddies success stories!
Vivienne: Go us, Nicole!
Nicole: Yes, go us!
“…some people have a thousand friends and some people have very few friends”
Matthew: We’re new on the Central Coast, what would you say to people based in the area who were thinking of joining Gig Buddies?
Vivienne: There’s no downside. It’s just lovely to have another person to do things with. Some people have a thousand friends and some people have very few friends, but it’s just great, having one solid friend - someone like Nicole to do things with. To bounce ideas off. And again, someone to laugh at your jokes! It adds a new dimension to your life and I don’t want it to end.
Nicole: I would tell them to definitely join, to try it out.
Matthew: Why do you feel the Gig Buddies program is needed?
Nicole: It’s needed because, as Viv said, some people don’t have a lot of friends so it’s nice to meet somebody who you get on very well with. And just as Viv said, I wouldn’t change it for the world!
Vivienne: I remember listening to Paul (Richards, Gig Buddies founder) at a Gig Buddies event (the Gig Buddies Sydney rebranding night in 2018).
I was learning about the establishment of Gig Buddies. He said that at 9 o’clock, with his band (Heavy Load) playing away he’d look into the audience and if there was a group of people who had a disability they would have to leave (early), and when he asked why, he found out that all the support workers knocked off at 9pm.
“Listening to Paul, I thought, ‘of course you should be going to gigs with other people’ - and (Gig Buddies) just seems to be a great way of expanding opportunities for others…. there just needs to be more of this.”
Look at what Dylan Alcott has just done in the Olympics (winning back-to-back Paralympic gold in the quad singles). And I noticed that he was the lead story on the ABC the other night; it’s been a long time since someone with a disability has been the lead story on a national news broadcast. This blurring of abilities, I feel these lines need to disappear. We’re just one big crowd and we just need to get on with it!
Matthew: That’s amazing that you’ve recounted the story from Paul about the 9pm cut off and people going home. We reference that in our training and I know he reads the newsletter.
Matthew: How have you been communicating during the lockdown period?
Vivienne: Usually one launches a text at the other. We always text and then come up with a plan.
Matthew: Who tends to come up with the ideas?
Vivienne: Sometimes it’s me and sometimes it’s you.
Nicole: Yeah, I reckon it’s about equal.
Matthew: Have you discussed the first gig after lockdown?
Vivienne: We did talk about going to soppy movie, didn’t we Nicole? We haven’t discussed it yet, but it would be great to go to an “event, event” - something we can get dressed up for so you don’t have to see me in my tracksuit pants!
Nicole: Yes, we did talk about going to the movies.
Matthew: Do you have any plans to catch up before we’re officially out of lockdown?
Vivienne: We probably will. I know Georgina is wanting to catch up with Lily, but she’s outside of her zone, but it would be great to go for a picnic with the four of us once we’re allowed. We just look forward to the end of lockdown when our world can expand even further.
Shiny disco balls
This week we invite buddies to connect with us and others online by attending the following Zoom events and chats.
On Wednesday we’re facilitating a Gig Buddies exclusive: we, in collaboration with the wonderful Dirty Feet, will be hosting an online contemporary dance class.
One day later and we’ll be loading up the Kahoot! apps for the Gig Buddies sports quiz, and we round off the week with a 70s themed disco.
In addition to our three Zoom events, we invite buddies to connect with us online for our weekly chats. They take place today and tomorrow, starting at 4pm. To attend get in touch via text: 0422 061 990 or Facebook Messenger.
And to find out more about this week’s online offerings (and to sign up), load up the links below:
All online games will take place via Zoom. For information on how to use Zoom, load up the following easy read guide written by Learning Disability Wales. Alternatively, click here to check out our 'how to use Zoom' video.
If you have any questions or would like more information, send us an email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or call/SMS us on 0402 708 814.
The great buddies bake off
Entries to our ‘cook and win’ competition close soon.
Would you like to win a $100 gift voucher? Do you like cooking or baking? If so, read on…..
We’re calling on buddies to get creative in the kitchen and upload a photo or video of their handiwork - much like Bevan (below).
For more information, including how to upload your entries, load up the following link.
One more to the team
We’d like to introduce our newest match.
Say hello to Matt and Pat (above, L - R). Welcome to the Gig Buddies community - we look forward to seeing you both out and about at a future event.
A word from the pros
And finally, throughout lockdown we’re going to continue promoting professional services for any of you doing it tough.
Mental Health First Aid Australia have issued the following guidelines on assisting someone distressed by the Covid-19 pandemic, and they’re also providing mental health first aid in the time of ‘social distancing. Additionally, the team from ideas.org.au have shared their ‘look after your mental health in the COVID-19 crisis’ list of ideas.
reachout.com have also released their 10 ways to take care of yourself during coronavirus guide, while for those of you now working from home, Black Dog Institute have put together the following checklist to support your mental health.
We’re here to chat
From our perspective, while we’re not trained professionals, we are available for a chat.
For anyone experiencing increased social isolation, send a text or call us at 0422 061 990 (Gig Buddies Sydney) or 0402 708 814 (Gig Buddies Central Coast).
Matthew, Carol, Tony, Bec and Chelsea
Would you like more information about Gig BuddiesSydney? You’re only a click away. Connect with us via the links below.
Fancy revelling in legendary status? If so, please support us in our cause to get more people out to live events in Sydney.
Donations over $2 are tax deductible and all are gratefully received.
The Gig Buddies Sydney project is an initiative of ACL Disability Services.