British people are really missing the pub – here’s why
The events of the past year have had a devastating impact on the hospitality sector in the UK. At the forefront of lockdown’s sacrifices for many is the closure of an institution that is a cornerstone of british culture – the pub.
An estimated 2500 pubs closed during 2020, accelerating an already existing trend prior to COVID-19. While the likes of celebrity pub owner Tom Kerridge and beer writer Pete Brown lead efforts to raise awareness about the plight of Britain’s pubs, many people find themselves longing for the unique atmosphere of their favourite “local”.
What people miss most about pubs right now has little to do with buying and drinking alcohol – after all, those habits have continued largely unhindered in the form of home drinking. Instead, it’s the opportunity to be around and interact with other people.
Pubs are recognised as important assets to their communities, providing economic and social value alike. They’re also an excellent example of what the American scholar Ray Oldenburg calls the “third place”, a space other than the home or workplace where people meet to interact and maintain relationships.
These spaces were hugely valuable but increasingly under threat even before COVID-19, with the existance of pubs, youth clubs and libraries already impacted by recent years of austerity policies and technological changes. But well-run pubs offer something that, in spite of some admirable efforts like virtual pubs, is difficult to recreate at home: a truly offline, in-person social experience.
Even before the pandemic, loneliness was widespread in Britain.
Through a collaboration with the Campaign to End Loneliness, I’ve been researching the role that pubs play in tackling social isolation and loneliness. The resulting report highlights the important social role that pubs play in bringing people together and fostering meaningful and valuable social interaction. Pubs are about much more than getting drunk...
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Notes for editors
Press release reference number: 21/26
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