Community / 21 April 2016

Pub is the Hub launches in East Sussex

I was fortunate enough to be invited to the East Sussex launch of Pub is the Hub who are working with East Sussex County Council and Wealden District Council. As ever it was well organised and fun and a real offer of help for pubs wishing to diversify.

Chief Executive, John Longden explained the history of Pub is the Hub – established by the Prince of Wales in 2001 in Yorkshire, then Cumbria, Norfolk, Essex, Cornwall, Devon and in January this year in the Scottish Borders. He talked about pubs closing, but the infrequently mentioned statistics a round pubs opening too. The Community Services Fund can give up to £4,000 per project and they are now working with the Post Office Community Fund which can help pubs set up post offices in pubs more easily too. The vast majority of funding now comes from private investment and if you want to know more visit the Pub is the Hub website – steal as many ideas as you can from the 100 plus case studies – it is all free.

As ever there has to be a balance between commercial viability and community benefit, but with over 500 pubs involved, there is clearly a need and success to be had. As ever they need more funding. 27 projects are seeking funding at the moment, so if you have spare cash, they can always use them!

Anthony Miller, who is chairman of Pub is the Hub in the South East told us that in East Sussex there are 4 pubs for every other community building. He went on to talk about some of the services offered from a library in Pevensey, to lunch clubs for the elderly (interesting to read in the Times that the number of lonely people is likely to increase to 600,000 within two decades). One of the most innovative partnerships is the ‘Man Shed’ (can be for women too!), but provides a facility for the older generation to build something with their hands – pubs with redundant out-buildings would be ideal and they then have customers on the spot! Barclays explained their ‘digital eagles’ work where 1,200 of their staff offer to help train people to use computers and we heard from the Applause Touring company who can put on plays or storytelling in a pub or pub garden.

The Bull’s Head at Boreham Street hosts board games competitions and knitting groups. It even has its own beer brewed by Harveys! They developed 5 acres of ground and opened a camp site which brings more people into the pub. Always have something going on was the advice licensee Michael Cornfield.

Interested licensees were there to listen and hopefully go back and think about what other services they can offer. Clearly the District Council wants to keep open the pubs it has. They feel they cannot afford to lose more and so many are at the centre of community life and service. An inspiring and as ever with John Longden a fascinating day. BBPA support Pubs is the Hub – do you?

Written by

Brigid Simmonds

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