Updated: Aug 31
As of today, residents of New South Wales have been granted greater freedoms.
The state has reached its 70% target, meaning for those fully vaccinated they can visit hospitality venues and gyms, while non-critical retail has reopened.
From a Gig Buddies perspective, we’ve received numerous questions about the resumption of face-to-face social events, group volunteer training sessions and in-person pairing meetings. These will occur once 80% of the state’s people aged 16 and over have been fully vaccinated.
Currently, this looks likely to occur in either late October or early November.
For any future indoor event, our facilitated catch ups will adhere to a venue’s covid policy on whether to allow non-vaccinated people to visit. Additionally, should we host our own outdoor gathering, we’ll refer to government guidelines on the number of people permitted to attend.
We’ll share more information about the resumption of our face-to-face social events, group volunteer training sessions and in-person pairing meetings after NSW reaches that magic 80% mark.
As for the here and now, this week we invite buddies to join us on Zoom for the following online games and chats:
Starting on Wednesday, Andrew and I invite gamers to join us on Zoom to talk about their favourite computer games and consoles.
The aim is to bring the Gig Buddies gaming community together; during the Zoom we’ll breakout into designated rooms based on your preferred console - and we’re hoping friendships will be formed and attendees will be able to play against each other in the future.
One day later (Thursday) Marlowe and I play host to the Gig Buddies 80s music trivia; and we round the working week off with a night dedicated to the sounds of glam rock. Expect to hear hits from David Bowie, T.Rex, Roxy Music and Queen.
In addition to our three events, we also 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:
Wednesday 13 October
Thursday 14 October
Friday 15 October
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: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or call/SMS us on 0402 708 814.
And the winners are…..
Congratulations to our ‘cook and win’ top three.
First place and a $100 gift voucher goes to Andrew, while Brigitte takes home a $50 voucher and second prize, and bronze and a $25 voucher goes to Bevan.
Thank you to everyone who took part, and congratulations to our winners. Picking a top three was not an easy task.
We’ll be in touch with Andrew, Brigitte and Bevan to talk prizes.
As we’re not quite in a position to fully enjoy all that Sydney and the Central Coast has to offer, we’ve decided to run another online competition for the month of October.
As part of our ‘art-ober’ competition, we’re calling on buddies to get creative, send in their art work and help us design our 2022 calendars.
Once your visual masterpieces are ready to be presented, take a photo and upload to our designated art page - after which your art will appear on the Gig Buddies website and your name will go into the hat to win one of three prizes.
At the end of the month we’ll then randomly select three names from our lucky draw, where winners will receive either a $100, $50 or $25 gift voucher.
Buddies can upload as many pieces of art as they like to our website, however they’ll only receive one entry to our lucky draw.
All submitted art pieces will be considered for the Gig Buddies 2022 calendar - to be released in December.
For more information on how to submit your entry, click here or, if you have any other questions about our ‘art-ober’ competition, get in touch via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or call/SMS us on 0402 708 814.
“….it’s a great opportunity to meet new people”
Following September's 'month of buddies' series, Alex and Taylor (below, L - R) got in touch to share their story.
In their own words, here is their Gig Buddies’ story.
How long have you been paired together?
Alex: Technically I got the news that Taylor would be my buddy on October 9, 2019, so I thought that I might as well wait…three Months later, we were paired, so properly paired since January 15, 2020.
Taylor: We got matched up just before I went overseas for a few months for work – so we officially got paired when I was back. So, it’s been a little over a year and a half now.
Tell us about some of your gig buddying experiences
Alex: We got paired up just three months before Sydney’s first major lockdown, so the only things that we have done are the Gig Buddies ‘walk the walks’, as well as the Christmas gathering.
Taylor: We definitely love going to the Gig Buddies events - like the walks which are a lot of fun, and we went on a great picnic with other gig buddy's as well. But there’s been lots of other fun things we’ve done as well like going bowling – which Alex was way better at then me! We’ve had a lot of just general meet-ups, once driving out to Manly, and we’ve also gone to a couple film festival events as well.
“….when I joined it was mainly to increase my social life”
What’s the best thing you’ve done together?
Alex: Tricky….. I'm going to have to go with actually two events, the first was Sydney Mardi Gras and the second was having the opportunity to go to view the original Red Wiggle-Murray Cook’s newish band, The Soul Movers, where I actually got a photo with Murray.
Taylor: I loved the Soul Mover event and Mardi Gras as well! It’s hard to choose one favourite, but another great time was when we went to a Bus Stop Films showcase film night just before lockdown – we got to walk the red carpet, and watch some really great films!
So you’ve made new friends from your involvement with Gig Buddies?
Alex: Yes - most of them I have known longer than I have been with Gig Buddies, but I am in the process I'm making some new friends.
So Alex, why did you become part of Gig Buddies?
Alex: I guess when I joined it was mainly to increase my social life, now six years later I have now become more involved in it on the creative aspects side of things, as I am a member of The Soul Fly Band (Gig Buddies Sydney’s user-led team).
And what about you Taylor, why do you volunteer with Gig Buddies?
Taylor: I was researching volunteering opportunities and when I saw it pop up I just thought it would be a fantastic way to meet new people and to try new things – and that’s exactly how it’s turned out.
We’re new on the Central Coast, what would you say to people based in the area who were thinking of joining Gig Buddies?
Alex: If you have a disability and are at risk of not having that many friends, it's a great opportunity to meet new people.
Taylor: I would say go for it! The Gig Buddies' community is so welcoming, and with so many events and great people it pushes you to try new things as well which is a lot of fun.
Do you think you two would have crossed paths if it wasn’t for Gig Buddies?
Alex: Maybe not, but with these things you never know. However, I'm glad I was able to be paired up with Taylor, as we both have an interest in film and television.
Taylor: Yeah, I’m not sure. We may have run into each other at a film event maybe, but I don’t think we would have had the opportunity to become such great friends if it wasn’t for Gig Buddies.
How have you been communicating during the lockdown period?
Alex: Mainly via Facebook Messenger. There is the occasional phone call catch up….. we both live pretty busy lifestyles, but we fit in at least some form of communication when we can.
Have you discussed the first gig after lockdown?
Taylor: We talked about how it would be really great to try and go on some more walks, and maybe even a picnic, but we’re a little bit outside the 5km radius of each other so we’re just waiting to see how restrictions change.
Alex: It’s nice to know there’s an opportunity (coming up) to have a bit of freedom, but I guess we have to wait as it's unknown when this freedom will be ours for the long term.
Extra, extra…. read all about it!
Thank you Alex and Taylor for sharing your personal story, it’s always great to showcase how every buddy journey is unique.
"…it felt so good to see my buddy again..."
Over the course of the next few weeks we’re to bring you the views of our Sydney user-led team, namely Stavros, Audrey, Jack, Joni, Alex, Nalyn and Lachy - also known as the Soul Fly Band.
First up, we start with Jack who shares his perspective on the recent lockdown.
In June 2021 many suspected COVID had become a thing of the past, yet sadly at the end of the month it decided to rear its ugly head once more and thus Sydney was plunged into what has now become 107 days of lockdown.
Socialisation is tough for someone with a learning disability at the best of times, but lockdown adds a whole new level of challenge. Naturally, the only possible way to be in contact during this time is through a virtual means, either through the likes of Zoom or FaceTime, or even something as simple as texting each other to touch base and keep each other’s spirits up.
The point is, even though you can’t see each other in the physical world you can still be connected - just in different ways. Myself and my buddy Brendan (below, L - R) kept in touch throughout the lockdown by FaceTiming each other to have a chat or a laugh, or we would watch a movie together through Facebook and Netflix. Our movie of choice was Jim Carrey’s comedy classic The Mask.
Then finally at the end of September/start of October, as both of us are fully vaccinated, we were able to meet up at our local park and have a picnic together on a beautiful spring day. In all honesty meeting up with someone physically after months of virtual connection felt strange at first, almost as if I’d slightly forgotten how to do it. But soon enough it all came back and it felt so good to see my buddy again face to face.
So if I was to conclude this I’d say lockdown was tough, no question about that, but it was made slightly easier by the knowledge that this would pass in time and that my buddy and I were still connected both virtually and physically.
Thank you, Jack, for sharing your perspective on the lockdown. Next week we hear from fellow band member, Joni.
Since our last update we’ve paired up another two buddies.
Here’s us welcoming Beth and Rochelle (above, L - R) and Joe and Monica (not pictured) to the family.
And last week we prepped another two volunteers.
Thanks to Daniella (above) and Brian (below) for joining us on Zoom last Thursday. We’re looking forward to introducing you both to your respective buddies.
A word from the pros
As always, we want to share with you information about a number of professional services for any of you doing it tough during lockdown.
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.
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Donations over $2 are tax deductible and all are gratefully received.
The Gig Buddies Sydney project is an initiative of ACL Disability Services.