1925. Paul Richards
Paul Richards, from Brighton, founded the charity 'Stay Up Late' and its project ‘Gig Buddies’ to enable people who rely on assisted support for learning difficulties, autism or other conditions greater opportunities to enjoy live music and cultural events, and remain active in community life.
Paul was a founding member of a punk rock band which was mainly made up of musicians with learning difficulties, and noticed how people in the crowd at gigs who had learning difficulties would often need to leave early due to carers finishing shifts by 10pm. The experience inspired Paul to set up an initiative that could allow people with learning difficulties to stay out late and fully enjoy gigs, concerts, club nights and other cultural events by matching them with a volunteer who could serve as a ‘Gig Buddy’. The matching process works by connecting a disabled user with a vetted volunteer who has shared interests and passions, and agree to attend an event together once a month. Starting off in Sussex, the initiative now operates in 12 cities across the UK, and in 2021 Stay Up Late also launched a new project, ‘Sports Buddies’, to pair up people with and without learning disabilities to undertake regular exercise together.
Peter Kyle, MP for Hove, said:
“This Award is a brilliant recognition of Paul’s work. These things take hard work and dedication and don’t happen by accident – well done Paul, and thank you on behalf of everyone in Sussex who is benefiting from this genuinely amazing idea.”
“It’s wonderful to receive this recognition, especially in the 10th year of our charity ‘Stay Up Late’. Of course, the real heroes are our volunteers and the wonderful staff team who make all our work possible. Thank you.”