Look to your local to save a great British institution

This month communities are being encouraged to blend in with their local
17 Apr 2014 @ 2.17 pm
| Food & drink
This month communities are being encouraged to blend in with their local
This month communities are being encouraged to blend in with their local

York CAMRA’s Nick Love reveals the reality of pub life beyond the pint


It’s National Community Pubs Month and there’s not a better time to urge you to use “the local” that’s on your doorstep, that you would miss if it wasn’t there but rely on other people to support.

A good community pub is about far more than just serving alcohol. It is a place to relax, socialise and eat. It sources its provisions from local producers and is an outlet for local talent – be that artists, poets or musicians.

It is a venue for local groups, organisations (even children’s playgroups) and raises money for charity. In fact lots of money – UK pubs raise a startling £500 million annually for charity!

It’s funny how we eulogise about “the local” being that most quintessentially British of things and yet new research commissioned by CAMRA reveals that 38% of adults in the UK never visit a pub.

What makes for even more uncomfortable reading for the licensed trade is that only 15% of pub-goers visit once or more per week. This has decreased from 24% over the last five years.

Yet despite the obvious reasons for the fall in pub patronage such as austerity and the availability of cheaper alcohol in supermarkets, some of the responsibility for this malaise must lie with the pubs themselves.

More independently researched statistics back this up:

  • 80% of pub-goers have never received any communication from their most local pub
  • 24% of these people would visit that pub more often if they were informed of what events were happening there.

Now that’s a hefty chunk of potential revenue that pubs are ignoring.

This is where CAMRA comes in with the Community Pubs Month to highlight pub-going in the UK and work with pubs to help them try new marketing initiatives to improve their communication and thus footfall.

Updating the community

Colin Valentine, CAMRA’s chairman, says “A staggering 28 pubs close every week in Britain so it is important we all take this research seriously.

“Although many pubs excel in communication, it is clear that a lot of pubs need to engage more with their local community if they want to be successful.

“Organising events that appeal to the local community and communicating what they have planned is a necessity.”

Valentine is right of course.

The pubs that people look to as examples of successful thriving community hubs are the ones that regularly utilise their email lists, regularly update their Facebook pages, cultivate relationships with the media, network with local groups and use Twitter accounts daily to tell people what’s going on.

In York, which is a beacon city for great pubs, it’s tempting to think we’re exempt but we’re not. There is still a majority of the good folk of York that never frequent a pub and certainly not one in their neighbourhood.

Pubs employ over 500,000 people in the UK and along with the brewing industry add £19 billion to the economy. We must actively support them before more of them close.

If you’re a licensee, there’s lots of resource available from CAMRA to help you publicise your hostelry and make contact with your potential customers here.

For York residents – make a point of looking out your local to see what is has got offer, it’s probably changed out of all recognition since you last darkened its doors and will be more than happy to welcome you back.