We are excited to announce the return of major programme, ‘More Than a Pub’; a new round of support and finance that will help community groups across England looking to take ownership of their local pub for the benefit of the community.

Community groups and representatives of the community pub sector will gather at The Dog Inn in Belthorn this week to welcome this new round of bespoke funding that will support more pubs to open under community ownership over the next 18 months.

Community pubs are thriving where private enterprise has failed; almost a quarter of privately-owned pubs have shut down since 2008, but community pubs have a 100% success rate. Community pubs also play a vital role in reducing loneliness and social isolation, providing a range of community focused activities and services, as well as being a community space for all.

The programme will be delivered in collaboration with a range of key stakeholders in the community pub sector, and a flexible package of support will be on offer to community groups, including access to an advice line, events, training, workshops, peer-to-peer study visits, and business development advice. It will also offer flexible bursary awards to fund very early stage activity, such as community consultation work, and a grant and loan package to help pubs reach the open and trading stage. The programme will support new-start projects and already open pubs, where they advance a charitable purpose to benefit their communities.

Funded by Power to Change and delivered by Plunkett Foundation, this programme builds on the success of the first round of the More Than a Pub programme, which supported 190 communities and saw 28 pubs open their doors under community ownership from 2016 to 2019. Many more who have been working with the More than a Pub Programme have been listed as ‘assets of community value’ under community rights, highlighting the important role that pubs play in local communities.

One pub that benefited from the first round of ‘More Than a Pub’ is The Gardeners Rest in Sheffield, which opened in October 2017 with over 400 local residents investing between £100 and £5,000 to become Society members – and democratic owners – of the pub, now being run for the benefit of the community. The group has developed The Gardeners Rest into a community hub with services and facilities beyond that of a traditional local.

The pub now undertakes charitable work with vulnerable adults and people with learning difficulties, by providing employment opportunities and meeting space. It also continues to be a music venue with guest performers, as well as an activity centre and a place for local artists and photographers to exhibit their work.
Mark Powell, Director of The Gardeners Rest, said: “The programme support made the difference between buying a pub and investing in More Than a Pub – we have stayed focused on our community purpose because of this. It would have been too easy to have done otherwise in the first year of a new commercial venture.”

Vidhya Alakeson, Chief Executive of Power to Change, said: “Pubs are often the last hub in their community. They are important places where people come together and they provide a diversity of services, including lunch clubs for vulnerable people, training and development, gardening and cooking classes and parenting groups. Community pubs are so valuable to the people who use them. The first round of the More than a Pub programme we ran with Plunkett was an enormous success, so it was a natural decision for us to continue to support this thriving and much-loved sector.”

Further information on the latest round of the More Than a Pub programme