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Community pubs diversify during lockdown

Community pubs diversify during lockdown

Prescription services, food and produce deliveries, hot food deliveries and takeaways, and telephone helplines are all ways community pubs have diversified during lockdown, according to figures from the Plunkett Foundation.

There are now 116 community pubs trading across the UK, with 67% of those who responded to the survey continuing to operate in some way despite the forced closure of cafes, pubs and restaurants since March.

The Plunkett Foundation’s survey reveals that as well as laying on extra services specifically designed to help people in their locality receive the supplies they need during the lockdown, community pubs have also been supporting their tenants by providing reduced rents or rent holidays and keeping staff employed where possible, and furloughing them where not.

One example, The Pheasant in Neenton, Shropshire, closed on 20 March and began offering a takeaway and local delivery service for food the following day. During lockdown the pub has been offering a “Meal of the Day”, “Essentials Boxes” of basic foods and has added “Celebration Boxes” for those celebrating birthdays or anniversaries as well as “Sharing Platters” for two. The takeaway service brings in about 25% of normal revenue and provides people in the area access to quality food without having to brave the supermarket queues.  The delivery service is a lifeline for people who are shielding or self-isolating.

In contrast, a UK-wide survey from the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) of its members in the wider pub industry which shows that of those who responded 28% were able to offer food and drink takeaway, collection and deliveries during lockdown.

The Foundation is calling on people to support their community pubs both now, and when lockdown is lifted.

To help trading pubs adjust their activities, due to the pandemic, small grants of up to £2,000 have been made available at short notice through The More than a Pub programme, run by Plunkett and funded by Power to Change. Since the crisis began the programme has provided £43,000 worth of support in the way of grants, alongside specialist advice to help community pubs.

Hannah Barrett, Senior Project Manager at Plunkett, said:

“Community pubs have been working hard to remain the beating heart of communities, offering services which have been much needed and greatly relied upon during the Covid-19 crisis. Through their activities they are not only keeping communities in contact with each other and supplied with the products and services they need, they have also been keeping people employed during these extremely difficult times.

“These pubs have been leading the way and showing by example that community pubs are more than just pubs, they are diverse hubs of community involvement even at a time of social distancing. We have seen enterprising, innovative and evolving ideas across the country, keeping people and communities safely connected.”

Tom Barton, Programme Manager at Power to Change added:

“Community pubs are a lifeline for the communities they serve. We know that community owned pubs are so much more than just pubs – and their response throughout this crisis is a testament to that. The community pub sector has stood out for its resourcefulness and can-do approach to tackling the current situation. In some of these cases, it appears that local people have come to value their community pubs even more because of the amazing work they have been doing.”


Main image: Freshly baked sourdough loaf from The Weymouth Arms in Warminster

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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