Why punks in the community?

In 2010 I started up the charity Stay Up Late and I’ve often used the catchphrase ‘Keep it punk’ in our work.

The charity was borne out of the experiences of the punk band ‘Heavy Load’. (Watch the Heavy Load feature length documentary to find out more about the unique life of our band).

Three of the members of our band had learning disabilities and many of the band’s fans also had learning disabilities.  We would play all over the UK and at 9pm would often see the same thing happen, just before we’d get on stage usually!

At least half the audience would leave, usually against their will, because the staff who were supporting them finished work at 10pm and needed to go home. This used to frustrate the pants off us and it led to us starting the Stay Up Late campaign which later became the charity as it is now and now has a national and international reach both for it’s campaigning work but also for it’s Gig Buddies volunteer befriending programme.

Why ‘punk’?

Firstly Heavy Load were a punk band. We never intended to be a punk band, but when we started playing together that’s the noise that came out and we embraced the beautiful creative chaos of that moment in all our work, not just our music.

The spirit of punk works well for us, it’s in our DNA at Stay Up Late and that spirit serves us well in all our work. For us ‘Keeping it punk’ is about:

  • Seizing on opportunities
  • Having a DIY approach
  • Working out how to do things as we go
  • Being dynamic
  • Taking risks
  • Challenging conventions
  • Being provocative
  • Being accessible
  • Being kind to each other

But also it’s important that we look after ourselves, so aim to have honest, clear and direct communication within our team – maintaining that band mentality.

For us punk isn’t about mohawks, safetypins and piercings – it’s about an approach.

The purpose of this site is to talk about the experiences of setting up a charity and the tips and tricks that were learned along the way. We’ll also be sharing the things we learned from the many mistakes we made too.

We’re inspired by that famous graphic from the 70s called the ‘Three Chord Trick’ which says ‘here’s a chord, here’s another, here’s a third, now form a band”. That’s how Heavy Load started and that’s how Stay Up Late started.

Learning as we go, or ‘thinking through doing’ as we’d call it.

So why punks in the community?

The important thing to remember is that it’s not about ‘punk music’. We’re all about social change and we know loads of other great organisations who are doing very different work but who all embrace that spirit of punk in their work. Whether that’s running a lunch club, a table tennis club, a martial arts club, a community pub or an allotment.

This site will aim to support those of you who are also natural punks wanting to make a change in your part of the world. We want to share what we learned so you can avoid some of our mistakes and hopefully make some great stuff happen, and quickly!