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‘New ‘Gig Buddies Auckland’ project aims to combat social isolation’

Spectrum Foundation is a philanthropic funder that aims to address the inequality faced by disabled people in Aotearoa by breaking down barriers in five key areas – health, housing, education, employment and self-determination. Over the past two years, the Foundation has distributed more than $1m in funding to disability focused community organisations.

Spectrum Foundation also offers direct disability support and housing services to disabled people through its entities Spectrum Care and Homes of Choice,

“As part of the disability community ourselves, we know that there’s significant need for services that aren’t covered by government funding,” says Spectrum Foundation Chief Executive, Sean Stowers. “By funding other groups and initiatives that are already engaged in this work, we can help these organisations to have an even bigger impact.”

“Some of the programmes we’ve funded so far include free autism diagnosis assessments, legal services for disabled people, workshops to help parents advocate for their disabled child in mainstream schools, and employment training for young people with intellectual disabilities.”

Spectrum Foundation’s Director of Philanthropy and Impact, Fenella Humphreys, says the focus is on initiatives that will have the biggest impact on the lives of disabled people. One of the projects she’s most excited about is Gig Buddies Auckland, which aims to combat social isolation by matching disabled people with volunteers who share the same interests and passions.

Social isolation and loneliness can affect us all, but disabled people face additional barriers to social participation. They spend less time socialising, have fewer friends, and are much more likely to feel lonely and isolated than non-disabled people.

“Gig Buddies Auckland offers disabled people the opportunity to make real social connections with people who aren’t paid to be with them,” says Fenella. “The hope is that by matching people with similar interests and hobbies, it’ll enable long-lasting friendships to form.”

Gig Buddies Auckland is working in partnership with the Student Volunteer Army to recruit and vet volunteers, and Auckland Council’s Music in Parks to create inclusive events that are open to all.

“Spectrum Foundation kicked off our funding with our own funds, but we’ll have a far greater impact by getting more people involved,” says Fenella. “People can support us by donating, volunteering with Gig Buddies Auckland, or simply coming along to our events.”

Gig Buddies’ next event, Gig in the Park, is a free, accessible music event on Easter Saturday. Gig in the Park will be in Victoria Park in Auckland’s CBD from 1-5pm this Saturday (30 March).

Applications are now open for both Gig Buddies Auckland disabled participants and volunteers.

To find out more, visit gigbuddiesauckland.org. For more information about Spectrum Foundation funding or to find out how to support the organisation, visit spectrumfoundation.org.nz

 

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