Pub is The Hub has launched a new campaign to help combat loneliness and isolation through services and activities provided by pubs.
Called Join Inn - Last Orders for Loneliness, the £100,000 two-year pilot programme is being funded by Heineken UK.
The initiative was inspired by the Jo Cox Loneliness Campaign and will help pub owners, operators, local authorities and rural community organisations to review the pub's role in helping to provide vital social spaces for local residents.
It will fund a part-time advisory "Ambassador for Loneliness" role that will seek to spread the best ideas from individual pub schemes to other regions and share their success nationwide.
It builds on four years of Heineken UK's Brewing Good Cheer campaign, which encourages pubs to host events that bring people together who might not often get the chance to visit their local.
David Forde, managing director at Heineken UK said: "Pubs are so often the heart of communities and can play a vital role in helping to tackle social isolation.
"With 2,700 pubs across the UK we understand their importance in bringing people together, it's something we've campaigned passionately about for the last four years through our Brewing Good Cheer campaign.
"We're thrilled to build on our long-term support for Pub is The Hub. Our partnership will kick-start community activities and shine a light on how communities come together in, and often rely on, the Great British Pub."
John Longden, chief executive for Pub is The Hub added: "One of the main benefits we have discovered through our projects with rural pubs is the enormous boost to wellbeing that they provide to isolated or vulnerable people in communities. We are very grateful to Heineken UK for supporting us to scale up and help to share our ideas with many more communities."
Robin Hewings, director of campaigns, policy and research at the Campaign to End Loneliness said: "At The Campaign to End Loneliness we want to inspire people to connect and to bring communities together.
"Everyone needs connections that matter and pubs can be a great place for that to happen."
Examples of initiatives provided through the scheme include:
- 15 micro-libraries in rural pubs in Cornwall. This initiative is supported by Cornwall Council's library services providing access to a regular supply of books as well as all the other library and council services through a computer terminal and Wifi sited in each library.
- At the Boot Inn at Freston in Suffolk, the licensee opened an art deco style community cinema in a refurbished store room at the back of the pub. There, the community gets together to watch big sporting events or TV "occasions" as well as devising a regular programme of film screenings.
- An initiative that began in East Anglia by Creative Arts East and Applause Rural Touring to bring live touring theatre "specially-written-for-pubs", called the INN CROWD has seen live performances in hundreds of rural pubs attracting people who might never be able to get out to theatres in their nearest towns.
- At The Green Dragon in Exelby in North Yorkshire they introduced a café and shop earlier this year, which became so popular as a social hub they began to organise regular events such as a quiz night and knitting clubs, offering local residents the chance to socialise without going into the pub itself.