Club helps expand the social network

AN expatriate Irish couple has laid out the welcome mat for those struggling to expand their social network or even get one started in the first place.

Mike and Mary Burns have used their own experiences to launch The Welcome Club, a group designed for those new to, or just returned to, Perth who find they’ve left their social life in another city. The club also provides a social avenue for people whose lives are too busy to arrange outings but would like to participate in them.

The Burns arrived in Australia 30 months ago on a business migration visa and quickly discovered the need for newcomers to develop a social network so as to settle in and make Perth feel like home.

“People were leaving Perth because they felt they couldn’t settle, and that shocked us,” Mrs Burns said.

“If you’ve been anywhere else, there’s nowhere like Perth. It’s wonderful and it’s a great place to live and it’s just such a pity to see people thinking they have to head for Melbourne or Sydney because they might actually settle in better there.”

The Burns have been pleased with the response to the club in its first six months of operation. There are more than 50 members, both from overseas and interstate, as well as busy locals.

The Welcome Club organises a range of events so that people can come back every week and have a different experience each time.

Events offered including race track days, wine tasting nights, stargazing and culinary evenings. For the more active there are walking groups, windsurfing and rock climbing.

Participants’ ages range from 25 to 55 and there’s a good spread of couples and individuals.

“It’s not a dating agency at all,” Mrs Burns said. “It’s more of a way for developing a social network for people who move here.”

About 70 per cent of corporate relocations fail because newcomers fail to settle in. While many corporations find housing for new employees and schooling for their children, in some cases, that’s where the help stops.

In others, companies try to ease new recruits into the office culture via organised social events which, despite the best of intentions, often prove to be awkward and sometimes excruciating for all concerned, Mrs Burns said.

This is particularly the case if the new arrival is in a senior position.

That’s where The Welcome Club can help, according to Mr and Mrs Burns. The Burns are in the process of developing corporate memberships, with a package offered to corporations that regularly bring in employees from overseas.


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