More than food, drink and darts

Posted on the 21st March 2017

Communities Week 2017: Pub is The Hub has been offering its special brand of advice, support and initiative to rural pubs who are keen to do a bit more to help their communities for over fifteen years.

Support comes by way of an experienced team of advisers and modest grants of up to £3,000 per project are available where no other funding exists through our own Community Services Fund*.

As a result, community-minded pub landlords are opening shops, Post Offices and cafes with great success, but the range of services and activities has broadened to reflect changing social needs.

Here are just three examples:

  • With reductions in transport links and libraries being threatened with closure, pubs have become the inspired choice for Cornwall’s enlightened Library Services team to locate their micro-library model. Each of fifteen or so micro-libraries now situated in rural Cornish pubs is stocked with the most popular current titles across a range of categories and are presented and rotated on shelf by a fully-trained librarian every fortnight with new books.
  • At the Old Inn at Mullion in South West Cornwall the library room boasts several shelves of books, comfy seating and an internet terminal.  Licensee Sara Liddle is thrilled with the project and loves the idea that local people have daily access to library books.
  • Buoyed by the success of the library Sara has also stepped into another area of interest for rural pubs – that of supporting the less IT or internet-savvy members of the community to get online.
Beryl Jones and Jane Morgan (organiser)
Beryl Jones and Jane Morgan (organiser)

As one centre for a local digital champions initiative, the Old Inn took the opportunity to engage with a group of local residents who regularly meet for a coffee, to improve their computer skills and gain the confidence in familiar surroundings to use the computer to enhance everyday life.  They work on a range of devices – smartphones, tablets and laptops – and are able to pick up simple tips for emailing, browsing and internet security.

Sara told me that the idea means she can provide locally-based training for what are essential life skills these days – and it doesn’t feel as daunting as travelling to a classroom to learn.

Across in Norfolk, The Chequers at Feltwell not only runs a community cinema club each week but also opened for its first ‘dementia-friendly’ lunches last year for sufferers to attend with their carers, family and friends.

The aim of these lunches is to provide the welcoming atmosphere of the pub that is fully accessible and neutral in décor. Dementia awareness training is available for staff but not compulsory.

Gemma Liczbinski, Development Worker for Adult Social Services at Norfolk County Council explained to me that many couples living with dementia find it difficult to have enjoyable social outings together and most breaks from the home are to a day centre or dementia café. While they both offer brilliant respite neither were providing the couple with time together in an informal relaxed way.

When I reflect on changing needs, isn’t it ironic that in today’s ‘connected’ society there are many people who still feel isolated and vulnerable through lack of essential services nearby? Luckily, this is where local pubs and good licensees can provide a very accessible all-inclusive solution as the one place that is open, warm and welcoming – and long may that continue!

Anyone interested in finding out more about Pub is The Hub can go to our website at www.pubisthehub.org.uk or can call the office on 01423 546165.

*To date the DCLG has kindly supported Pub is The Hub with £320,000 of funding since 2013, mainly for projects.

by John Longden, Chief Executive for Pub is The Hub

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