The family-run Queen public house is located in the small rural village of Brandeston near Woodbridge, in Suffolk.
When the first Covid-19 lockdown started in March 2020 publican Caroline Aitchison, her daughter Harriett and son Alexander who run the pub together, set about adapting the pub’s offer by creating a village store within The Queen to help support locals who were unable or not wanting to go to big supermarkets due to Covid-19.
The Queen team fitted out a temporary village store within the pub offering a range of essentials, as well as setting up a delivery service of food essentials to the vulnerable.
Following the popularity of the shop it has now become a permanent fixture at the pub, with the temporary shop refurbished, including with new refrigeration, a coffee machine and ice cream parlour added to create a café offer.
A range of essentials, including milk and fresh bread, an off-licence selection, along with locally sourced fresh produce and a specialist range of Italian and Spanish products, are sold at the store.
A barn on the pub’s site has also been developed to provide indoor and outside seating areas where locals can come together to enjoy drinks and snacks from the café and a chat.
Outcomes So Far:
The village store provides a great service to locals, many of which struggle to reach the nearest major supermarket which is 10 miles away as there are limited transport links in the area.
The store’s delivery service to the most vulnerable provides an essential lifeline to many.
The village store, as well as the pub’s café and takeaway, not only provide amazing services to locals, but also help to bring people together that previously never used the pub.
Seating areas created in the pub’s barn have created another valuable service for the Brandeston community, helping to reduce social isolation by offering another space where people in the local area can meet and connect with others. There is a strong demand for somewhere to meet up, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, with an increasing number of people wanting much missed social interaction and connection.
Lessons to Learn
- A publican and their family are making their vision to help the community further work.
- The facilities enhance the social cohesion of the rural community the pub is located in.
- The seating area and café is playing a key role in helping those in the community connect with others to help combat feelings of loneliness and social isolation.
- The village store means more residents are walking to the pub to get shopping rather than driving to the supermarket, creating less car use and impact on the environment.
Regional advisor for Pub is The Hub Terry Stork said: “This family-run pub is a real hub of the community. The village store has proved really popular with those living locally and is an important amenity, especially for older and more vulnerable customers who find it hard to travel.”