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Pubs playing important role during lockdown

More than three weeks since pubs closed their doors due to the Covid-19 outbreak, many are continuing to work tirelessly to support their local communities. The help takes many forms, from offering essential supplies to customers, to preparing hot meals for local homeless and other vulnerable people, as well as keeping regulars entertained and connected during isolation with online quizzes, music nights and more.

PubAid co-founder Des O’Flanagan said: “It is humbling to see how many licensees are putting people above profit and doing all they can to help their community, despite facing huge uncertainty themselves.

“Pubs have played a vital role at the heart of their communities for centuries, and during these difficult times, the support they are providing, particularly to vulnerable people, is just invaluable.  Let’s hope that one upside of the pandemic is that as many of these fantastic pubs as possible are able to come through the lockdown and emerge with the on-going recognition and support of their local communities.

Community Pub Heroes:

The Angel & Crown in Richmond is serving hot meals daily to more than 30 local homeless people. The pub, owned by Fuller’s and operated by Nick Botting, is making the meals available from 4-5 pm, seven days a week, to ensure that these most vulnerable members of the community receive one hot meal a day. Dishes are prepared by the pub chef and collected in full compliance with the Government’s social distancing guidelines. Local outreach organisation SPEAR is directing rough sleepers to the service.

Nick Botting said: “We’re pleased to be using our kitchen and talented chef to help some of the hardest-hit in the community, and expect demand to grow as word spreads about the service.”  Initially, the pub was using food in stock at lockdown, but is now reliant on donations, which are gratefully received at: https://www.paypal.me/angelforthehomeless

The Sugar Mill in Bourne, Lincolnshire, moved a planned fundraiser online and raised £270. The recently-refurbished pub kept its pledge to support Little Miracles, a charity which supports children with additional needs, and streamed its Disney Quiz via Facebook for customers, mainly families, who donated £1 to take part. Licensee Tom Bellis said: “We were delighted with the response, with more players than we expected, and the money raised will support a fantastic charity.”

The Ram Inn in Brundall, Norfolk, has raised £800 for its local hospital, by displaying rainbow art in its windows. The young daughter of a regular started the trend by asking for her ‘rainbow of hope’ to be pinned up, and since then the windows have been filled with more than 80 pictures.  Landlord Martin Burrekoven-Kalve said: “The pub is donating a pound for each rainbow, and local customers and groups have also pitched in. It’s such a cheering sight in these difficult times, people are stopping to take photos when out for their exercise.”  All money is going to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Surbiton pub The Antelope is cooking 200 hot meals a day, which are distributed to local vulnerable people. The initiative is being run with local charity Voices of Hope, which is co-ordinating the service.  James Morgan, co-owner of Big Smoke Brew Co, which runs The Antelope, said: “We are lucky to have the facilities to support people locally during these difficult times.  We’re making healthy meals for the elderly, low income, homeless and isolated, and with 30,000 vulnerable people in the Kingston area, demand will only increase as lockdown continues.”

A furloughed Stonegate general manager has turned his hand to making Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers.  Cee-Jay Williams, GM at The Junction Tap in Woking, and his friend Tim Charlesworth, are using 3D printers to make face mask clips after they were inspired by the story of a group in Italy who were adapting diving masks into protective gear.   Cee-Jay said: “We read online that the NHS had plenty of visors, but not enough clips for staff to use them. After a bit of trial and error, we’ve mastered the technique to print them, so we should be able to make a lot more clips – and fast. I hope we can make a difference for our amazing NHS workers and help them do their incredible work.”

The Gerard Arms in St Helens held a Facebook Live Festival earlier this month in aid of local Willowbrook Hospice and raised £513. Four live acts performed over four hours on the Saturday evening, with a further gig on the Sunday by regular favourite Olivia Parr. General manager at the Greene King pub, Mark Hayes said: “We were furloughed on the Monday after the Festival, so unfortunately our online music had to stop, but we certainly ended on a high, with nearly 7,000 followers across 45 countries and 60,000 interactions in the last week. And we raised money for a great local charity.”

The Railway Hotel in Saltash, Cornwall, is operating a Community Kitchen, providing free hot meals for those in need during lockdown. Licensees Neil, Gloria and Lewis Challen are preparing meals, which are being delivered with help from the local Saltash Lions Club. The pub team is also shopping for local people in self-isolation, and managed to raise £150 for Saltash Cadets from an online quiz and games night.

The Bluebell Inn in Desford, Leicestershire, has set up a shop to support the village, sourcing groceries and fresh produce through its suppliers.  Manager of the Everards pub, Michael Cosgrove said: “Many in the village fall into the vulnerable category and can’t shop in the big supermarkets, so they can collect from us, or we’ll deliver. Some days, the shop is keeping me busier than the pub did!” Michael is also putting on quiz nights, bingo and DJ events through Facebook Live, to keep his customers entertained and connected with their friends during lockdown.

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