Pubs across the country have stepped up once again to help their local communities through the second national lockdown.
As seen earlier on in the year, many have pivoted to offer essential supplies to residents, deliver food parcels to the elderly and vulnerable, and boost local morale and mental wellbeing with online quizzes and chats.
The Roebuck in Mobberley, part of the Cheshire Cat Pubs & Bars group, is again offering its popular ‘Just Heat’ meals – pub favourites recreated for home dining. The group, which also runs the Best Pub in the UK, is offering takeaway fish and chips on Thursdays and Fridays, and a range of sausage rolls, pies, local cheese, eggs and other goodies. The team has also introduced some festive twists, including the ‘12 Wines of Christmas’ and hampers of local produce, with an order for 90 already placed by a local company.
“Customers have welcomed our efforts to bring some early festive cheer to this rather depressing situation,” says co-founder Tim Bird (pictured right with wife and co-founder Mary McLaughlin). “Everything we did during lockdown one was about keeping our pubs visible and relevant by supporting our local customers and communities. They told me that we helped to create some good lockdown memories locally, so we’ll be aiming to do the same for the rest of this month.”
Pubs – a force for good
The Roebuck is of course not the only venue offering its area essential support. The following list of examples has been compiled by PubAid, which aims promote UK pubs as a force for good in their local communities:
- The Bowgie Inn in Crantock, north Cornwall, is focusing on helping people’s mental wellbeing during the lockdown. Making the most of its position overlooking Crantock beach, owner Sally Pickles is taking people on daily virtual walks, via Facebook live streams. During lockdown one, The Bowgie Inn walks were enjoyed by half a million people around the world, who tuned in to benefit from the calming effect of the beautiful coastline and sounds of the ocean. Pickles is also restarting free, weekly live yoga sessions, as another way of helping people combat their anxieties around the pandemic.
- Dinnerstone in Saddleworth is working hard to keep local homeless people warm and nourished as the nights grow colder, with a Compassion During Covid drop off point at the front of the pub. Licensee Charles Brierley and team members from Dinnerstone and sister pub The White Hart in Lydgate are requesting donations of essential foods and ingredients to create tasty nutritious meals, which they will distribute to homeless people in Greater Manchester. They are also appealing for warm clothing and sleeping bags and have raised £350 in online donations.
- At The Red Hart in Blaisdon, Gloucestershire, licensee Sharon Hookings is helping the community in a different way to lockdown one. “This lockdown feels different, with different needs locally; there’s not the same demand for the village store we operated in the pub last time,” she says. “However, we’re doing shopping for any vulnerable residents who need it and offering takeaways over the weekend and a selection of fresh bakery goods every Friday afternoon.” The pub is continuing its weekly quiz on Zoom, offering takeaway pizzas with £2 from each sale going to a local special needs school.
- The Hope in West Norwood has brought back its popular takeaway service from lockdown one, including pie and mash and a Sunday roast. They are also able to offer free roasts to a number of deserving people each week, thanks to donations from local residents and businesses – West Norwood Football Club provided four meals last week. During the first lockdown, the pub provided free meals to families, people isolating with Covid-19 and key workers.
- At The Dog & Parrot in Eastwood, near Nottingham, owners Kathryn and David Boam are again supporting local vulnerable residents by shopping for groceries, collecting prescriptions and offering a friendly face and voice – socially distanced. During the first lockdown, the pub acted as a vital hub, helping residents who were shielding to stay physically and mentally well.
“This second national lockdown, coming hot on the heels of other restrictions, is hitting pubs hard – though this time, licensees and their customers are better prepared,” says PubAid co-founder Des O’Flanagan. “Many pubs have continued to offer the takeaways and deliveries they started in the first lockdown, so they’re already up and running for this one.
“Pubs’ support for their communities is both physical, as they provide food and other vital supplies, and, just as importantly, emotional, with many pubs offering a friendly face and a chat to elderly and vulnerable people who would otherwise feel very isolated. The nation’s mental wellbeing was a big concern during the first lockdown, and pubs, as the social hubs of their communities, can help us all to stay connected over coming weeks.”