Plunkett Foundation – the UK charity dedicated to helping communities save their pubs, shops and services through community ownership – is calling for local groups to step forward to help fight the closure of some of the West Midlands’ pubs.
Partnering with the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) the charity aims to support groups by offering free expert advice and funding to help establish business plans, appeal for volunteers, handle legal matters and raise the finance to save their pubs.
When a local pub disappears, often so much more than a drinking space is lost. A pub often sits at the heart of the community and can help to tackle issues of isolation and loneliness, improving the wellbeing of the residents it serves.
Community pubs across the UK are under threat with over 2,500 pubs having closed in 2020 – representing a five per cent fall in pubs across the country. Since 2010 over 500 pubs have been lost in the West Midlands region alone.
So, if your local pub has shut and you are worried that it might be lost for good, or it’s up for sale and you are worried about its future, the Plunkett programme might be for you!
Taking ownership of a local pub ensures that it can continue to thrive for everyone. Many of the 150 community owned pubs helped by Plunkett provide services that the local community need and value.
Chris Cowcher, head of policy at Plunkett Foundation, explains: “Each community group will receive free guidance at every step of their campaign, including tailored business support, advice on raising funds, training and peer support. Plunkett’s help offers a real lifeline to people desperate to save their local pub. We want more groups from the West Midlands to come forward to help them save some of the area’s iconic pubs for the benefit of all.”
The WMCA has funded Plunkett to deliver this free specialist support to groups of residents who want to investigate taking over as a community to save or reopen a local pub. Plunkett helps community groups to buy either the freehold or leasehold of a pub, or even set up a new pub in a vacant unit.
Community ownership means pubs can put all sorts of activities and services into their buildings as well as being the local place to have a drink. Some pubs host shops, post offices, health services, dementia groups, knitting circles and more! Pubs can help to combat poor mental health and provide work experience, volunteering opportunities and employment locally to all ages.
Plunkett has run its More Than A Pub programme over the last three years, working with hundreds of communities to achieve community ownership or leasehold of their local pub when it was in danger of being lost.
Plunkett would like to hear from any community groups that may benefit from its support. The foundation can help to put them in the best possible position ahead of the second round of the government community ownership fund.
Any communities in the WMCA areas of Sandwell, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Solihull, Coventry or Dudley who want to know more can access free advice on 0845 557 1469 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit the Plunkett website to take a look at some community pub case studies. Its annual report on the community pub sector can be seen here: https://plunkett.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/Plunkett_BB-2020_Pubs.pdf