Stay Up Late, the national charity supporting people with learning disabilities to see live music through their volunteering befriending service ‘Gig Buddies’, have launched a virtual online music festival in response to the coronavirus.
The charity, which was set up in 2010 to support people with learning disabilities to access mainstream music, art and culture by buddying them up with a local volunteer with the same interests, has had to rethink their usual services since the coronavirus hit the UK in March.
With all pubs and clubs now closed due to the current lockdown and with social distancing rules in place for the foreseeable future, the charity has brought the music to their beneficiaries, supporters and wider communities, in the form of their @Coronavirusfest.
Paul Richards, Director of Gig Buddies said: “We are all now experiencing what it feels like to have social isolation imposed on us by the current lockdown. Sadly, this is quite an ordinary experience for the 1.5 million people with learning disabilities who live in the UK”.
Many people with learning disabilities spend every-day in isolation due to a range or factors, including lack of support, not being able to access public transport, being frightened of going out at night, not having anyone to go with and poor mental health.
Paul continues “We’re doing a number of things to make sure we’re connecting with the many people we work with during this time, such as regular phone check-ins, group socials on video conferences and daily interactions with those that are on social media.
“However, we wanted to find a way to keep the gigs going. So, we came up with the idea of @Coronavirusfest. Three times a week (on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings) musicians and DJs stream a live set from their homes across Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/coronavirusfest/
“It’s open to all and it’s a place where artists, with and without learning disabilities, can entertain us all and keep some sense of community going. What I’m hoping, when this lockdown is all over, and we all get back to our ordinary way of existing, is that we will all also have changed in the process and more of us will be aware of all those people who will not really notice that the lockdown has ended. For them a life of isolation continues”.
“That of course doesn’t need to happen and we’ll be working hard to recruit even more volunteers to support our ongoing work to give everyone the opportunity to party, or live life as they choose”.
To support the work of Gig Buddies the public can join the audience at @Coronavirusfest, become a performer, sign up as a volunteer and/or donate to support the charity’s ongoing work.
For more information on Gig Buddies and @Coronavirusfest visit www.gigbuddies.org.uk/coronavirusfest