There was some amazing work done by wonderful publicans for their local communities during the first lockdown, including many selfless and charitable works. We know that once again, as well as trying to keep their business going in these extremely challenging times, publicans will step up to support their local people, which may help reinforce or grow their pub’s position as the hub of their local community in the future.
Here are some ideas that publicans could consider to help support their community during this second lockdown:
- Support hub: work with your staff and any volunteers to set your pub up as a community support hub, using an area to coordinate welfare calls and checks and shopping and medicine requests for the elderly, vulnerable and shielding/self-isolating in your community. Positive examples of this type of community support include The Star Inn, in Harbottle, Northumberland, which is part of the Northumberland National Park Neighbour Initiative to provide support to vulnerable and isolated residents of the Park and the Boot at Orleton, who linked up with their community’s local ‘good neighbour’ project.
- Sell groceries: set-up a pub shop, with grocery supplies, available by box collection through ‘call and collect’ or through staff and volunteer deliveries. Look at whether there are other local businesses you can support with this, such as food and drink producers, by selling their goods through your pub shop. At The Lodge in Tuddenham, Norfolk, live tours of goods available in its shop are featured regularly on the shop’s Facebook page, facebook.com/theshopatthelodge, along with regular photo updates, so customers can see what is available to order.
- Support families in need: help organise/provide free meals for families and vulnerable people in need. Work with other local organisations, such as schools and councils, to help identify who needs support.
- Takeaway/delivery food: offer takeaway and delivery meals and pre-ordered takeaway drinks. At The Lodge Shop & Takeaway in Tuddenham, Norfolk, a QR code is featured on the website for customers to scan to order their takeaway online. It is worth checking if your local Covid-19 community group are sharing info on what meal services are available to residents or list your services as part of the ‘Order Local’ campaign from local news website In Your Area. Get a free listing (if covering your area) here: https://form.jotform.com/200834849577367. Afternoon tea is also a great takeaway option for those looking for a treat to cheer someone up or to celebrate a special occasion. Find more takeaway tips here: https://www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/Article/2020/03/18/How-do-I-set-up-a-takeaway-service-from-my-pub
- Kit customers out: offer meal kits and ready meals for people to cook at home. Host a cook-along session online with your chef as part of a meal kits package. At the Shrewsbury Arms in Kingstone, Staffordshire, a Heat and Eat Menu is on offer, featuring a range of meals which come ready to eat or with reheating instructions. A Heat and Eat Sunday menu is also available, with three-courses for £15. The Wire Mill, near East Grinstead, West Sussex, also offers an extensive range of ‘Gastro to Go’ dishes. Be inspired by The Wiremill offer here: facebook.com/thewiremill/videos/855695778534043.
- Communicate support across all channels: many elderly people may not be on social media, so deliver leaflets around your area telling people you are offering delivered meals. Recruit local volunteers to help with deliveries to the vulnerable and self-isolating/shielding.
- Make customers smile: create a fun limerick/poem or cheery message each week from the pub to put in food boxes or takeaway/delivery bags to help make customers smile and help keep your business connected with people. Another idea is to ask local children to draw colourful pictures/write messages to include with meal parcels for the elderly/vulnerable.
- Community support campaigns: become a Food Bank collection point and consider organising a Christmas hamper campaign, collecting Xmas goodies, to create hampers for those who will be most in need this festive season.
- Online wellness focus: use your social media channels to help provide content and activities to make customers smile and which focus on wellness, such as teaming up with local businesses to offer exercise sessions. If your pub is near to a lovely location or has lots of activity going on in the garden record a daily video to share on your social media.
- Help share good news: provide an online or real village notice board or message exchange service for residents to share good news. This could include a celebrations section for births, big birthdays etc. You could also help keep people connected and entertained by putting on a community TV show (streamed through Facebook Live and featured on YouTube after), radio show or podcast. Content could include interviews with locals, snippets of pub life, tastings of new shop produce and takeaway meals, as well as a focus on what other local businesses or organisations are doing during lockdown. Be inspired here: ringobellscomptonmartin.co.uk/radio and www.thefleeceinn.co.uk/whats-on/cheltenham-festival/.
- Artistic approach: engage with local poets, writers and actors to come up with creative ways to help keep your community connected through your pub. Be inspired by arts project Inn Crowd, who Pub is The Hub is a supporter of, whose talented performers are finding creative ways to connect and entertain people in local communities through their pub, even when they are closed. Be inspired here: https://inncrowd.org.uk/inn-crowd-residencies-2020. You could also create a piece of community art work in your pub’s car park or garden, using materials such as a ‘Covid snake’ of decorated pebbles, which locals can get involved in painting and add to the picture at any time. Get inspiration here: miltonkeynes.co.uk/news/people/incredible-rock-snake-created-villagers-milton-keynes-during-lockdown-2885950
- Bright festive idea: organise a ‘Light Up’ initiative in your community, encouraging people to decorate the exterior of their houses with lots of festive decorations to bring cheer to the community. Lead the way by putting on a captivating Christmas display outside your pub. The initiative could also help raise money for a local charity.
- It’s good to share: set up a community swap shop in your pub’s car park or garden for people to swap unwanted books, puzzles and games. Put out plastic boxes with lids for people to put donated items into and help keep items dry.
Main picture: Becky Gibbons at The Larder village shop at the Rose & Crown in Longburton.