‘The church is near, but the road is icy. The pub is far away, but I will walk carefully.’
This Russian proverb sums up much of how central the pub is to many people in Britain. For centuries, at times of celebration or crisis, pubs have provided a warm welcome, a sanctuary from the weather, a refreshing pause in a walk, a heart and centre for our communities.
It’s unsurprising, then, that in these very changeable times, one thing has remained the same. Despite COVID, pubgoers are heading back to our pubs for community, society – and fun. It cannot be denied that running a pub at the moment doesn’t represent a huge challenge, with the raft of restrictions to keep us all safe and curfews on pub opening hours making headline news. But still, the punters, where its sensible to do so, are heading back which, surely, further demonstrates the centrality of the pub to the British social life.
As we head into an uncertain autumn and winter, social connections are going to be vital to our health and wellbeing. Pubs provides spaces where, even alone, we’re with people. And community pubs, the kind we support, are so much more than ‘just’ pubs.
With this in mind, we’re thrilled to tell you that two community pubs we’ve supported through our involvement in the More Than a Pub* Programme are opening their doors this week. The Cornwood Inn near Ivybridge in Dartmoor, and The White House in Bladon, Oxfordshire will once again be open for socially distanced community connections. Read all about them both on our website – Cornwood, White House – and if you’re passing by them, we would urge you to visit – mask on, of course!
*The More than a Pub programme provides business development support to enable the community control of pubs in both rural and urban communities across England. Funded by Power to Change and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and led by the Plunkett Foundation, the More than a Pub programme has taken over 800 enquiries and supported 58 pubs in to community control. During the COVID-19 lockdown the MTAP programme provided small grants to around half of the community pubs in England.