I’ll drink to that!
It’s Communities Week and there’s much to give us cheer in a new evaluation report on Power To Change’s More Than A Pub funding programme. First off, the number of community pubs in England has more than doubled (135%) since 2016 thanks to More Than A Pub’s powerful mix of funding and business support. A stonking 197 community groups across England have received support from the programme.
Often based in rural areas with poor access to local services, these community-owned pubs bring plenty more benefits than just a nice cold pint. Our report found that when a pub is actually owned by the local community, it becomes an inclusive space that people feel proud of and want to use. ‘Loads of people came to help when we first got the keys. It was amazing’, our evaluators were told.
A pub has the power to turn a place into a community, or as one interviewee put it, ‘Without a pub this place is just a bunch of houses on a road’. And when the pub is a community space it can be used to combat loneliness and exclusion through volunteering opportunities, social activities, free use of meeting space and even the provision of services like a post office or health surgery. Not to mention paid work behind the bar.
Almost a third of all the community pubs in England have received support through the More Than a Pub programme and round two of funding is now live. Our evaluation report points out the areas we can improve on: most of the communities we’ve helped so far have not been in urban or deprived areas. Applications from groups in the North and West are also under-represented. Now we’ve got some experience under our belts, however, we’re ambitious to widen our reach. Round two aims to attract applications from a wider variety of places and groups which perhaps need more support to get their plans off the ground.
More Than A Pub, which is administered by the Plunkett Foundation, offers advice, tailored business support, help setting up a community share scheme to raise money to buy your pub, and access to loans and grants to make up any shortfall. So if your local pub’s at risk of being turned into a block of flats and you want to add it to the 28 pubs that have been taken over by the community courtesy of the More Than A Pub programme check out our page here.
‘Before it was community-owned I wasn’t a pub person, but now I am.’