The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has launched a campaign to promote the role pubs play in tackling loneliness and social isolation.
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.”
The Campaign to End Loneliness has thrown its support behind CAMRA’s project, providing resources and materials for both pub-goers, and licensees looking to organise events.
Its director of campaigns, policy, and research, Robin Hewings, 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.”
Pubs with initiatives to tackle loneliness
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, provides a free barbecue to anyone who collects a bag of rubbish from the nearby beach
The New Inn, Ceredigion, 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 among young men.