A pub on the outskirts of Preston is hosting a Christmas dinner for young men struggling with isolation and mental health issues.
The Butlers Arms near Hoghton Bottoms is hosting the festive meal for 45 people from the local Social Inclusion Football League, part of a ‘Brewing Good Cheer’ initiative.
And now the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has launched a campaign to highlight the role that pubs play in tackling loneliness and social isolation, such as offering free dinners for the elderly or hosting chatty table schemes.
Stand-up comedian John Robins has applauded the initiative. He said: “With so many community assets lost due to a lack of funding, government cuts and the move from high street shopping to the internet, our pubs are a more important resource than ever before.
“While it would be wrong to link alcohol consumption with positive mental health, many pubs are about much more than alcohol. In some villages and towns, they are now the only communal area, where regulars, neighbours and visitors can check in on each other. Even a polite two-minute chat can be a vital source of contact for those who would otherwise be isolated.”
CAMRA’s National Chairman Nik Antona said: “There’s something about the colder months when it is harder to enjoy the outdoors that makes winter particularly isolating for some. Christmas can exacerbate this for those without local friends or family, making the festive period an uncomfortably stark reminder of what they’re missing out on.
“That’s why we want to highlight the role that pubs play in providing social networks for so many while connecting people to events happening in their area. It’s easy to get involved - if you’re a licensee, just drop us a line and we will do our best to spread the word about your events.
"If you’re somebody who’s looking to make new friends this winter, visit our website to find valuable resources and events near you. We hope to make a real difference this winter and the more people who get involved the greater impact we can have - so start sharing your stories and events today.”
Robin Hewings, at the Campaign to End Loneliness said: “Pubs are the place that people feel most comfortable starting conversations in. Pubs are a great space for people to connect. Just a small chat can make a big difference to someone who feels lonely.”