Today we attended the More Than A Pub National Conference, an event which brought together over a hundred campaigners, community pub committee members, professionals in community support and other interested delegates to discuss community pubs.

We heard from people involved in pub campaigns from across England, including The Bevy in Brighton, The New Inn in Warwickshire, The Centurion in Cheshire, The George and Dragon in North Yorkshire and The Dog Inn in Lancashire. It was inspiring to hear their stories of success and there was a feeling of solidarity around the room when community pub campaigners were talking about the struggles they’d faced.

“The hardest thing is changing people’s perception about the pub. But on the other side, it’s an amazing thing to see shareholders contribute”

Warren Carter, The Bevy Pub

The More Than A Pub programme is run by the Plunkett Foundation and offers funding and advice for communities looking to take over and run pubs.

To get funding for your community pub through the programme, you’d need to demonstrate activities above and beyond traditional pub use. Examples included:

  • Knit and natter
  • Events for children
  • Cooking lessons
  • NHS health checks
  • Blood donation
  • Massage
  • Choir sessions

This is just a sample, the list goes on. But if your campaign group is thinking of taking over a pub, it’s certainly something to think about.

Picture: @MarkLordPhoto

Top tips from the day are:

  • Visit other pubs, learn from their experience (and nick their ideas)
  • Use all the professional support available
  • Know the work involved. Don’t forget it doesn’t stop when your pub comes into community use!
  • Get the right people on your team – the right combination of skills and passion
  • Community pubs must reflect what that particular community wants
  • Don’t give up!

Thanks to the Plunkett Foundation for putting on this conference, it was great to have the opportunity to come together with other campaigners and swap stories.