The Campaign for Real Ale has launched a campaign to promote the important role that pubs play in tackling loneliness and social isolation, such as offering free dinners for the elderly or hosting chatty table schemes.
Dozens of pubs have shared their initiatives, including examples such as:
- The Brook Inn, Plymouth hosts ‘TLC Thursdays’ (Tea, Laughter and Company) where anyone can join in for a free cake, a cup of tea and entertainment
- The Harbour Bar, Gourdon, Montrose (Scotland) provides a free BBQ to anyone who collects a bag of rubbish from the beach
- The New Inn, Ceredigion (Wales) boasts a cinema club, community meeting space and a library area
- The Butlers Arms outside Preston runs a ‘Brewing Good Cheer’ initiative in which they host a Christmas meal for 45 people from the local Social Inclusion Football League, which addresses isolation and mental health issues amongst young men
Case studies are available below, and information on these events and more can be found on an interactive map at www.camra.org.uk/loneliness/
Critically acclaimed stand-up comedian John Robins has applauded the initiative, saying: “With so many community assets lost due to a lack of funding, government cuts and the move from high street shopping to the internet, our pubs are a more important resource than ever before.
“Whilst it would be wrong to link alcohol consumption with positive mental health, many pubs are about much more than alcohol. In some villages and towns, they are now the only communal area, where regulars, neighbours and visitors can check in on each other. Even a polite two-minute chat can be a vital source of contact for those who would otherwise be isolated and lonely.
“Pubs are not just places to drink, they are places to eat together, talk, and provide fascinating links to our local history. Though your old bank may now be a Costa, the town hall a new branch of Costa, and the public library a flagship Costa, your local pub could easily date back five hundred years, they are our meeting rooms, our debating halls, our museums. And they must be supported, protected and most of all, used.”
The Campaign to End Loneliness has also thrown its support behind the campaign, providing resources and materials for both pub-goers and licensees looking to organise events.
Robin Hewings, Director of Campaigns, Policy and Research at the Campaign to End Loneliness said: “There are nine million lonely people in the UK, and about four million of those are older people. They lack the companionship, friendship and support we all need.
In our own polling, we found that pubs are the place that people feel most comfortable starting conversations in. Pubs are a great space for people to connect. Even just a small chat can make a big difference to someone who feels lonely.”
CAMRA is encouraging pub-goers to share what their local means to them using the hashtag #mypubstory. It aims to shine a light on how important pubs are to local communities while breaking down the taboos around mental health.
CAMRA’s National Chairman Nik Antona said: “There’s something about the colder months when it is harder to enjoy the outdoors that makes winter particularly isolating for some. Christmas can exacerbate this for those without local friends or family, making the festive period an uncomfortably stark reminder of what they’re missing out on.
“That’s why we want to highlight the role that pubs play in providing social networks for so many while connecting people to events happening in their area. It’s easy to get involved – if you’re a licensee, just drop us a line and we will do our best to spread the word about your events.
“If you’re somebody who’s looking to make new friends this winter, visit our website to find valuable resources and events near you. We hope to make a real difference this winter and the more people who get involved the greater impact we can have – so start sharing your stories and events today.”