New Irish start-up The Freebird Club is a travel-based social club for older adults, enabling positive 'connected ageing’ through social travel and homestays among members. Operating as a ‘peer-to-peer’ members’ club for the over 50’s, it enables mature adults to travel and stay with each other in the context of a trusted community of socially minded peers. Founder Peter Mangan came up with the idea for the business when he saw how much enjoyment his father Owen, a widower and retired vet in Killorglin, Co Kerry, was getting out of interacting with older guests while managing his son’s holiday home. The Freebird Club offers a whole new way of travelling for older adults, a means to unlock value in their homes and earn extra income from spare rooms, and a fun, accessible way to meet new people and enjoy social and cultural interaction in later life.
The Freebird Club is providing older adults with an opportunity to be part of a worldwide community that will benefit their social, cultural and economic lives. With its growing membership of people from around the world, the Irish start-up is spreading its wings and is actively seeking new members from around the world. Freebird has a particular interest in connecting the Irish diaspora, both with their home places in Ireland and indeed with each other. Founder Peter sees the club as having the potential “to mobilise the senior Irish diaspora”, and is working with diaspora organisations in this regard. “With this in mind we are doing a project with the London Irish Centre whereby we are bringing a group of elderly Irish from the Camden Centre’s welfare service to stay with Freebird hosts in Kerry”, Mangan says, adding: “we have a vision of creating a continuous “Senior Gathering” effect, whereby older Irish diaspora have an opportunity to stay with similar aged peers in their place of origin in Ireland,”
The Freebird Club has won a number of major international awards. Last month it beat tough competition, involving 308 start-ups from 31 countries, to win the finals of the 2017 European Social Innovation Tournament in Riga, Latvia. The awards, which recognize innovative projects creating social value and combating social exclusion, are organised annually by the European Investment Bank. This marks the European “double" for Freebird in social innovation, having previously won the European Social Innovation Competition run by the European Commission in 2015. The Freebird Club has also been featured in major international press including the Telegraph, Huffington Post and the Irish Times. You can read their most recent Irish Times feature here.
So for those over 50 who are keen to engage with like-minded people from around the world, and/or have a spare room at home, the Freebird Club invites you to join their growing ‘peer-to-peer’ community. Becoming a member enables people to travel and/or host, experience meaningful social interaction, and establish new friendships in a trustworthy club environment. The Freebird Club also provides interesting information and articles via an online magazine for members, including tips on how to make the most of your travels, and as a host, how to make your guests feel more at home. Visit their website for more information: www.freebirdclub.com
Here’s how becoming a Freebird Club member benefits you:
- It’s a fun, accessible, trustworthy way to meet new people, make friends, and enjoy social and cultural interaction as you grow older
- As a member you can choose to be a guest, a host, or indeed both
- For those with a spare room, it offers a new source of income in later life
- You will not just be a member of a travel club, but part of a global ‘peer-to-peer’ community
- Staying with locals (especially ‘seniors’ with the benefit of local history) makes for a more rewarding and authentic travel experience
- It offers cheaper accommodation options than standard hotels & guesthouses