The Blue Bell is situated in the rural village of Stoke Ferry and closed in March 2018, with the previous owners applying for ‘Change of Use’ for residential development. The Blue Bell was the only pub in the village and the application for change was rejected. The villagers successfully applied to have it listed as an Asset of Community Value, and following a successful ‘Save our Blue Bell’ campaign raised the money to buy and renovate the pub. After much hard work and effort from an army of volunteers the pub reopened in June 2022.
It was always the intention of the committee to diversify and they made contact with ‘Pub is The Hub’ to discuss their plans. The proposal was to have an all-day community café, plus a Book-Swap and a parcel-drop, and also to have local produce for sale at their “Village Market Stall”. With this in mind the volunteers set about adapting the pub so that they could host community activities, and provide opportunities for companionship to the lonely and isolated.
Outcomes so far
- The Community Café is proving to be a great success a place where families, friends and groups can meet, connect and feel supported, while all the time enjoying companionship, and great food.
- It strives to be a shining example of a hospitality-focused hub that is open to people of all backgrounds.
- The pub has also introduced an Elderly Residents Lunch Club acting as a safety net for residents who are over-60. providing wholesome meals at discounted prices as well as the provision of information appropriate for this age group.
Lessons to learn
- Using the hospitality and social care expertise within the organisation to provide an inclusive service.
- There is a need to address the inequalities of physical and mental health, and poor access to healthy foods for the elderly.
- To maximise the use of the accessibility investment made to both the pub-café and gardens with the installation of semi-automatic door, and accessible toilet for the disabled and wheelchair customers.
- Working closely with the parish council and actively collaborating with other community groups can help to reduce poverty and maximise the social impact
Pub is The Hub regional advisor Terry Stork said: “This community café will be really key in helping local people to connect, particularly after the pandemic lockdowns which caused many elderly people in the area to experience feelings of loneliness.”