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  • Writer's pictureBruce Giddings

Belonging To The Tribe

Every person feels a need to belong, which is why Moreton Bay man Ryan Elson has been busy building a community where that human need to socialise and belong can happen more easily.

The Tribe Clubhouse on Oxley Avenue opened just 14 months ago and has already become a place of healing for many in the community who may feel isolated or alone. The social enterprise cafe, bar and live music venue puts out a welcoming vibe and is getting love back from the Moreton Bay community.

Ryan projects certainty and confidence, as he rocks a haircut and beard that wouldn’t look out of place on a bikie or old-fashioned bushranger. He wears a colourful pair of homemade pants that remind me of pyjamas

“...that’s what we are all about - belonging. “Finding a human connection.”

He’s a burly bloke, muscular, with an open countenance and direct manner. I believe him when he tells me he used to serve the community as a cop.

He jumps up quickly to greet patrons as they arrive at the clubhouse, giving them a smile, handshake, or a big bear hug, while he continues our conversation. He introduces me to some people and I can see why he is so well-loved here. He’s a force of nature and much respected.

We talk about his baby, Tribe Social Belonging, a registered charity, and he points to the big sign mounted on the wall behind us that reads ‘Social Belonging’.

“There, that’s what we are all about - belonging,” he tells me with a grin. “Finding a human connection.”

There's people around us who are doing just that. It’s 12:30pm on a Wednesday and the karaoke machine is playing Creedence Clearwater Revival to an appreciative group. The clubhouse is bursting with people chatting, singing along and making connections.

Ryan sketches me a brief history of Tribe, a project that was born out of the emptiness and grief he felt after the death of his son Jacob from cancer in January 2019. Ryan tells me he was in a dark place for quite a while. As he took the first steps towards recovery, he began to wonder how other people coped when their lives veered off track.

He started with a Facebook group, posting an appeal online and addressing it to anyone who felt lonely, isolated or anxious. He suggested they meet at The Belvedere Hotel for a chat, and that was the beginning.

Ryan soon left his employment in the corporate world and began working to build an inclusive group. He tells me he can never thank the many people in the local community enough.

“There are so many businesses and local citizens who have stepped up big time to help with their skills, donations and labour,” he said.

Since the clubhouse opened in August last year, Ryan has found new energy and optimism, enough to start him thinking about new ways Tribe may be able to assist people who are not well-connected in the community.

Recently, he has been thinking about how learner drivers can accomplish the required number of hours if they can’t afford a driving instructor and they have no access to other drivers among family and friends. Ryan says it’s just an idea so far, with more work to be done.

Ryan welcomes people from Moreton Bay and further afield to the clubhouse and looks forward to doing more for those who feel isolation and loneliness. Tribe already employs a team of “adventure” support workers who specialise in providing active good times and new experiences for clients who have NDIS support. This service has helped the charity to remain financially self-sufficient so far and Ryan aims to keep it that way, with the continued help of the community.

Free live music is a cornerstone for the fun times at the Tribe Clubhouse, where a large chalkboard out the front lists local bands and artists booked for the near future.

During the day from Monday to Thursday the place hums with conversation as people meet for a coffee and something light from the cafe-style menu. Patrons can also engage in arts and crafts and other organised activities.

The pace picks up on Friday and Saturday nights with drinks, live music, karaoke and other entertainment.

After seeing the fun and human engagement for myself and having a chat with some of the club members, I am sure Tribe Social Belonging is making a real difference.

More details about clubhouse opening hours and what Tribe Social Belonging is all about can be found on their Facebook page or at


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