Community pubs helping to fight isolation at Christmas
Community owned pubs are spreading Christmas cheer across the UK by hosting events aimed at alleviating isolation and loneliness and offering a safe haven for those who need it.
Across the country communities which have united to save their local pubs from closure are increasingly showing the benefits of owning and running them themselves, says national charity the Plunkett Foundation.
Community pubs have been hosting lunches, choir concerts and donating food to the homeless during December.
There are now well over one hundred community pubs trading across the UK. Among them the charity says that many have been laying on events specifically designed to help people who – for whatever reason – find themselves alone or in need during the festive season.
Hannah Barrett, Senior Project Manager at Plunkett, said that as the number of community pubs grows so too do the opportunities to tackle loneliness.
She added: “Every Christmas community pubs show they have a great heart and sense of responsibility to the people living in the surrounding area. Whether that is a rural area or an urban one. Loneliness and isolation exist throughout our society but community pubs can help fight these problems. They really go out of their way this time of year”
The increasing community spirit of community pubs comes against a backdrop of well publicised challenges for the pub sector – in both urban and rural areas. Figures from the Campaign for Real Ale show that 14 pubs are closing their doors each week.
Meanwhile, community pubs have a 100% long-term success rate according to Plunkett.
Plunkett offers free advice and support to help communities take on their pubs. By the end of 2018 there were nearly 100 community pubs trading across the UK – with 11 opening in the previous year alone. Sixteen new community owned and run shops started trading – bringing the national total to over 360.
Power to Change is the independent trust which supports community business across England. Their latest figures show there are now 9,000 community businesses in England which are worth £890m and have assets of £950m.
Tom Barton, Programme Manager at Power to Change, added: “For so many people, community pubs offer a beacon of hope. In communities across the country, there will be individuals who don’t have families or friends to spend the festive season with, and so having a place where all are welcome is an invaluable asset for tackling social isolation. It’s wonderful to see so many community pubs offering a safe haven for people this Christmas.”
Martin Burrows, vice chair of the Antwerp Arms Association, said: “The local people have become very involved with the Antwerp Arms since it became a community pub through many activities and it certainly made a huge change to this local area insofar as not many people even talked to each other in the London way. But it has created a village atmosphere really, and this is the centre of the village. A lot of people now come to our activities, we host a lot of community events and it has become a community hub.”