Pubs Supporting Their Communities

March 2020

Des O’Flanagan, PubAid co-founder, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic may have closed pubs for now, but their support for their local communities remains undiminished as licensees up and down the country adapt to offer local people practical, social and emotional support to help them weather this unprecedented crisis.  If ever there were proof that pubs are a force for good in their communities, this is surely it!

When Mother’s Day became an early Covid-19 casualty, Brawns Den in Durham donated all the food they’d planned to serve families to local food banks.

In similar vein, The Cross Keys in Coleorton in Leicestershire delivered 50 lunches from pizzas to Sunday roasts to the community on Mother’s Day.

The Old White Bear in Keighley had taken 129 bookings for Mother’s Day but rather than let down their customers, they made all the meals available for takeway instead, and are continuing to operate a take-out service.

When The Falcon in Prudhoe, Northumberland, had to close its doors, it gave all its excess food to local residents.

The Myrtle Tavern in Leeds has stepped up to support the vulnerable in their local community, dropping off care packages to people self-isolating or unable to shop for themselves. Packages contain vital supplies – tea, milk, biscuits, toilet roll and a bottle of Guinness!

The Plough & Harrow in Leytonstone has donated soft drinks to the local hospital for staff to enjoy on shift, and alcoholic drinks for those who want to take them home. They have also donated to other key workers such as post workers and refuse collectors, and have set up a Facebook page encouraging other pubs to offer the same support for the NHS

Pedal power is delivering pub meals to residents in Addingham, Ilkley. Jon and Amy, licensees at The Swan in the village, have invested in a bike to bring their tasty pub meals, cooked from fresh, to local people.

Lesters in Margate has made its car park available only to NHS workers at the nearby hospital, who are also benefiting from the pub’s takeaway food service.  Licensee Barry is doing all he can to support the community, despite being himself in his 70s.

Licensee Carole at The Clifton Arms in Blackburn raised more than £400 from the pub’s community in just half an hour and bought fruit boxes from a local producer to be delivered to the NHS staff at the local hospital. In the last week, the pub also delivered over 40 essential boxes to those who were in isolation or unable to leave home.

The White Hart in Nettlebed near Henley has set up a shop in the pub, offering vital supplies to local residents, and are cooking a daily hot meal, ready for collection if ordered the day before. A poll on the Nettlebed Facebook asking residents if they wanted the shop to continue got 127 votes in favour – and none against! Good work by licensee Ted Docherty and his team of live-in staff who are working on a voluntary basis to serve the local community.

The aptly-named Who’d Have Thought It in St Dominick in Cornwall is offering takeway and home delivery to the local community, and donating £1 for every order to a newly- established food bank offering vital supplies to the vulnerable. Great community support from licensee Tracey Fleming and her team.

The Blue Ball in Braunston, Northamptonshire, has been making up food boxes for the local community. Licensees Dom and Pip also set up a fund so that people can make a donation to purchase a box for those in financial hardship.

The Chestnut Group of 11 pubs in Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex has adapted its offer with freshly-cooked meals available for collection and delivery, live pub quizzes, Q+A sessions with the pub chefs on social media and online breadmaking demos.  They’ve also opened shops at the Three Blackbirds near Newmarket and Globe Inn at Wells.

To help keep customers socially connected through the lockdown, The Fleece Inn, Skipton, has moved its weekly Tuesday Pub Quiz online, with quizzers able to see licensee Tim read out the questions.  And The Portsmouth Arms in Basingstoke is running two quizzes a day – one for children at 5.00 pm and one for adults at 8.00pm. Around 4,500 people tuned in on the first day!

At The Bull & Bush in Shepshed, Essex, licensees Laura and Nez have set up a Facebook group for their regulars to share quizzes, music and more.







Say it with Pizza! Thank-you food and community meals as Toggle goes free

March 2020

Everything from thank-you meals for key workers to food deliveries to isolated friends and family can now be bought online, as gift card platform Toggle makes its service free for the duration of the coronavirus lockdown.

Toggle has already been used to set up a free pizza delivery service for NHS workers in London, while restaurants and pubs switching to takeaway operations are setting up gift cards allowing users to ‘Pay it Forward’ for meals and groceries for those needing them.

Any business can now access Toggle at to quickly set up a bespoke, branded gift card webshop free of charge. Users can be up and running in around 30 minutes, making gift cards available for customers to buy online and send to recipients by email.

The specialist team which operates the system will also provide any technical support needed free of charge.

● London pizza restaurant Crust Bros has set up a gift card using Toggle called ‘NHS: Pay It Forward’. The cards, available in £10 denominations, send pizzas to health workers at locations including Guys and St Thomas’ hospitals, as well as the London Ambulance Service. Every £10 is topped up by 20% by the restaurant. More than 120 pizzas were sent in the first day and a total of 229 over the weekend.

● At the Wiremill pub in East Grinstead, Surrey, operator Yummy Pubs has set up a £10 gift card which sends a meal to someone self-isolating due to the virus. Yummy Pubs director Tim Foster said: “People can nominate their family or friends, and we’re also asking the community to tell us where meals are needed – for example, we have an 89-year-old self-isolating lady living near the pub who has no family. We’re providing gastropub quality meals which our staff have volunteered to deliver – we’re making no money but we’re keeping the pub going.”

Airship CEO Dan Brookman said: “These are unprecedented times. Many people want to support businesses during the crisis, and equally many of those businesses are going all-out to support their local communities.

“We’re making Toggle free for the duration of the shutdown, however long it lasts, to help ensure that there’s a thriving hospitality sector when we come out the other side, and we’re using the #FutureFit hashtag to promote all the activity.

“We’ve already had more than 40 new businesses sign up, and there’s an impressive range of initiatives, with people not just supporting their friends and families, but key workers and the wider community. We’re also making whatever technical and marketing support is needed available to users to maximise the benefits.”

Businesses signing up in recent days include Busaba, Bear Coffee, Urban Pubs and Bars and Middletons Steak Houses.

Caption to attached image: Staff at St Thomas’ Hospital, London were sent free pizza paid for using Toggle gift cards by customers of Crust Bros pizza restaurant.

Charities and grassroots sports could lose £35million in lockdown

March 2020

Pubs rally to support communities in pandemic

The nation’s 12-week lockdown could cost charities and grassroots sports an estimated £35 million in funds raised by pubs, according to PubAid, the group dedicated to promoting pubs as a force for good in their communities.

However, hundreds of pubs, who have seen a drastic fall in trade since the Covid-19 outbreak, are actively increasing support for their communities, helping local residents who are unable to leave their homes.  Many have adapted their menus to takeaway or delivery, with a number providing free meals to local pensioners, others setting up village shops to serve those unable to travel, and generally acting as a hub to co-ordinate community efforts to support vulnerable residents.

Just as importantly, many are looking for ways to offer local people some of the social and emotional benefits they gain from a visit to the pub. A number have set up helplines to offer local housebound people a much-needed social interaction, others have organised on-line pub quizzes.

PubAid co-founder Des O’Flanagan said: “Clearly, traditional fundraising through events in pubs will have to stop in line with Government advice to avoid social contact. With pubs raising £100m a year for charities and £40m to grassroots sports, a three-month lockdown will equate to a £35 million shortfall.

“Despite the catastrophic consequences of the pandemic for pubs, many have responded by doing all they can to support customers and local residents and remain a hub for their community in this time of need.  Pubs have survived for hundreds of years by adapting to the changing world around them, and the speed with which so many have changed their business practices in the face of the Covid-19 lockdown is impressive.

“We are only at the beginning of this very difficult time, but we are confident that pubs will continue to help people to come through it, offering practical, social and emotional support.  Pub doors may be shutting, but pubs will find a way to remain a force for good in their local communities. “

Pubs at the heart of communities

Pubs raise £100m every year for hundreds of charities and worthy causes

PubAid’s World’s Biggest Pub Quiz, held every March, has raised £750,000 for charities since its launch in 2016. The 2020 Quiz figures are not included in this, with around 1,700 pubs thought to have taken part.

In 2019, PubAid carried out research into pubs and grassroots sport, revealing that pubs provide £40m in funding and in-kind support (free room hire, after-match food and drink), for local sports clubs

The PubAid Charity Pub of the Year Awards reward pubs for their charity and community support. The 2019 winner, the Rose of Mossley in Liverpool, has raised an estimated £250,000 in 30 years, as well as offering hands-on help to individuals in need in the community.

Pubs’ response to pandemic

  • The Chequers in Aylesford, Kent, is delivering free hot lunches and dinners to anyone over the age of 70 within the village or nearby.
  • The Fleece Inn, Brereton near Evesham is running a ‘loneliness buster’ helpline, as well as offering local meal deliveries.
  • The Polgooth Inn in St Austell ran its regular Pub Quiz on 17 March on Facebook Live
  • The Heritage in Slaugham, West Sussex, is looking to set up a village shop, to help local residents avoid trips to supermarkets and give local food and drink suppliers a new outlet.
  • Ye Old Sun Inn in Colton, North Yorkshire, is baking fresh bread, pies and cakes daily, selling them from a stall outside the pub as well as delivering orders to local residents unable to get out.
  • The Pickled Ploughman in Adderbury, Oxfordshire, is delivering free hot meals to local vulnerable people and to others who are self-isolating on a BOGOF deal. It also has a stall outside the pub selling fresh fruit and veg, dairy and dried goods.
  • The Loyal Tavern is Bermondsey, South London, is turning its restaurant into a grocery store and deli and will also be donating grocery boxes to the elderly.
  • The Tap & Run in Upper Broughton, Melton Mowbray is opening a village shop to sell groceries and pre-prepared meals to cook at home. A delivery service will be free to over 70s and NHS workers.
  • Customers are also doing their bit to support pubs. A regular at The Lugger in Polruan, Cornwall, loaded £2,000 onto a loyalty card to use in the pub this summer.


Bidfresh launches direct-to-consumer home delivery

March 2020

Fresh food supplier Bidfresh is adding direct-to-consumer home delivery services from its depots around the UK in response to the national measures introduced to address the coronavirus outbreak.

The public will be able to order meat, fish and seafood, fruit and veg, dairy and a range of other products. The free delivery service will operate in selected postcodes around the depots, and will run alongside Bidfresh’s established business with chef and caterers.

Home delivery has already been launched this week from Oliver Kay in Bolton, R Noone in Manchester, Knight Meats in Essex, and Henson in London, and is being rapidly added at other sites within the Bidfresh group.

Jane Aukim, marketing manager of Bidfresh said: “We are continuing to take orders from customers in the foodservice sector, but the current situation means many of them need less produce or are closing altogether, resulting in cancelled orders.

“At the same time, there’s clearly a need for consumers to be able to access fresh food. Offering home delivery alongside our established business will hopefully ensure that as much of the food as possible in our supply chain is being used.”

The products available will vary from depot to depot, reflecting the specialist nature of Bidfresh’s network of businesses. Delivery will be fulfilled by the business through its own drivers and couriers, and is being promoted through social media.

Drive Through for Fresh Beer at Hogs Back Brewery

March 2020

Surrey-based Hogs Back Brewery is finding new ways to keep its beers flowing to customers through the coronavirus ‘lockdown’, as people heed Government advice to stay away from pubs and bars and work from home.

The brewery, in Tongham near Farnham, has introduced a new Drive Through service for its draught, bottled and canned beers, including its flagship TEA, Hogstar lager and Surrey Nirvana Session IPA. Customers simply drive up to the Brewery Shop, place their order – from a safe distance – and the beer is loaded into their boot by shop staff, without needing to leave their car.

Customers can also ‘click and collect’ by going online to with orders ready for collection after 10.00 am the next day, and for those waiting for orders, beer will be served to socially-distanced tables in the open canopy area.

For customers unable to leave home, Hogs Back will home-deliver orders within a 15-mile radius of the brewery, and further afield for orders of £40 or more. The Brewery Shop remains open for business, with new social distancing measures in place and closure on Mondays to allow for deep cleaning.

While Brewery Tours have been put on hold, the Hogs Back hop garden next to the brewery is open to selected visitors, and hop growth unaffected by Covid-19. Members of the Tongham Tea Club loyalty club and other customers will be invited to the garden in the coming months to enjoy some fresh air and, with suitable distancing, help trim and train the young hop plants.

Hogs Back Brewery owner Rupert Thompson said: “One of the benefits of being a small brewer is that we can act quickly. We launched our Drive Through service the day after the Government’s announcement on social distancing, and if their advice changes again, we will adapt our practices. The safety of our customers and staff is paramount.

“We are of course unhappy that pubs look set to be a casualty of the pandemic when they are often an important community hub and an effective antidote to social isolation. We hope that the many pubs stocking our TEA and other beers will be open again to customers just as soon there is a safe way for them to do so.

“In the meantime, we’re delighted with the response from our customers, who have embraced the Drive Through and home delivery options to enjoy their favourite Hogs Back beers during these difficult times. Twelve weeks of lockdown will surely seem even longer without a glass of locally-brewed beer now and again!”

ShielPorter Communications – working through the lockdown

March 2020

We’ve both been involved in the hospitality sector for many years, and like all our friends and colleagues in the industry, all we can do is take this one day at a time. We’re still in business, although clearly it’s not business as usual.

We know that many operators and suppliers aren’t just thinking about their own needs – important though that is – but are also looking at ways they and their teams can support the wider community during this unprecedented situation.

If there’s anything we can do to help spread the word and support the sector, whether that’s through traditional media or social channels, please get in touch and let us know. And we’re sending support and all good wishes to everyone.

Stay safe

Ros and John