• Team Furlonteer

Building an inclusive community for LGBT+ travellers with start-up Proud Stay

Updated: Aug 10

In our latest Q&A, Alex Cook talks about how Furlonteer has helped his start-up social enterprise, Proud Stay, and the expertise our Furlonteers have brought across social media, graphic design and Diversity & Inclusion training.


Alex Cook


Please could you introduce yourself and how you came to hear about Furlonteer?

My name is Alex, and I'm the founder of Proud Stay. I recently participated in a start-up accelerator through Escape The City, which led to me starting Proud Stay about 3 months ago. It was one of my fellow course participants who brought Furlonteer to my attention after we went into lockdown.



Could you tell us a little more about your charity?

Full disclosure, we aren't a charity, but more of a start-up social enterprise.

Our aim is to help LGBT+ people find places where they can relax and be their full selves on holiday.


Data unfortunately shows that this often isn't the case, so we're helping tackle this by creating a community of LGBT+ travellers on Instagram and by building online training for accommodation providers on how to better serve the LGBT+ community (more information for hoteliers is at proudstay.com).


Help us spread the word! Please give us a follow on Instagram and share our details with any hoteliers or LGBT+ travellers you may know.



Which role(s) were you able to find support with through Furlonteer and how has this helped you?

I've been matched with a digital marketeer (Catherine) and a social media specialist (Ella). They're working on the strategy for our Instagram page, as well as helping with the day-to-day writing of posts and building our following. It's lovely to see, as they are helping up-skill each other where one has more of a specialism in a certain area than the other. It's nice that they benefit in this way from the experience.


They're working on the strategy for our Instagram page, as well as helping with the day-to-day writing of posts and building our following.

I'm also lucky enough to have been matched with a Diversity & Inclusion specialist (Corine) who is helping me develop an introductory webinar. This will give hoteliers a taster of the type of training we would like to offer. It's helping us check the demand is out there, and get the tone and content right. She even brought another of her furloughed colleagues (Alice) on board, so there is now a sub-team of 2 working on the training. (Side note: If anyone is looking to employ a D&I specialist, please do get in touch as both are now looking for work).


Finally, I was also introduced to a graphic designer (Leon) who is helping me with the branding for the project. He's currently in the process of sketching out concepts, and we will be working on getting the 'look and feel' of the brand right over the next few weeks. Hopefully his graphics will feed into both the social media work and the training presentations.



Is there anything you’d say to others considering signing up to Furlonteer for support?

I've been massively impressed with the calibre of the Furlonteers and the level of enthusiasm and skill they have brought to the table. I initially couldn't believe how well aligned the first volunteers were with my very specific request for a social media specialist and a Diversity & Inclusion specialist - within 2 days I'd been paired with both! I have been so lucky to be matched with such a passionate bunch of people who were also keen to specifically help an LGBT+ cause. My thanks go out to the Furlonteer team who provided the connection in such a seamless way.


I've been massively impressed with the calibre of the Furlonteers and the level of enthusiasm and skill they have.

How has working with a Furlonteer helped your cause?

Until recently I was very much a one-man-band, working on this as a passion project around a full-time day job. As much as coronavirus has caused massive disruption for many of us (including the cancellation of my wedding!) it has also offered some great opportunities. Through Furlonteer, I've now been matched with 5 amazing Furlonteers who are giving a few hours a week each to help me. I'm personally not on furlough but am temporarily working reduced hours at my day job, so between the 6 of us, we're making far more progress than I could have imagined just a few weeks back. It's turbocharged where I would be if I was still working on this solo.



If you'd like us to connect you with talented people who want to help your cause during this crisis...



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