Pubs across the country have stepped up to help their local communities through the second national lockdown.

David and Kathryn Boam, at the Dog and Parrot, Eastwood

Once again, 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.

PubAid co-founder, Des O’Flanagan, said: “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. Many pubs have continued to offer the take-aways 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.”

Community heroes

The Roebuck, Mobberley, part of the Cheshire Cat Pubs and Bars group, was ready to turn itself back into the successful pub hub from the first lockdown. It is again offering its popular Just Heat meals — pub favourites, recreated for home dining — a well as take-away 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.

Owner, Tim Bird, said: “Customers have welcomed our efforts to bring some early festive cheer to this rather depressing situation. Everything we did during lockown 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.”

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. Sally 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 food 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.

‘We’re doing hopping for any vulnerable residents who need it’

At the Red Hart, in Blaisdon, Gloucestershire, licensee Sharon Hookings is helping the community in a different way to lockdown one. She said: “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.

“However, we’re doing shopping for any vulnerable residents who need it, and offering take-aways over the weekend and a selection of fresh bakery goods every Friday afternoon.” The pub is continuing its weekly quiz on Zoom, offering take-away pizzas, with £2 from each sale going to a local special needs school.

The Hope, in West Norwood, has brought back its popular take-away service from lockdown one, including pie and mash and a Sunday roast. It is 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 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.

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