Pubs hosting the brewery’s beers are asked to nominate a charity and encourage customers to bring in clothes to donate by offering a free beer, Big Hug Brewery founder Matt Williams explained on National Hugging Day (21 January 2019).
The idea for initiative came after Williams returned to his home city and was shocked by the number of people sleeping rough.
He said: “I had moved to London to set the business up four years ago and hadn’t been back to Brighton for eight months. I came back for the day about two years ago and was gobsmacked by the amount of homeless people I walked past between the station and the clock tower – it was about nine.”
The brewery has organised events at a variety of pubs before, including BrewDog in Manchester and Liverpool, Draft House in London, the Signalman and Dead Wax Social in Brighton, for many homelessness charities.
“If customers bring a donation – be it a scarf or a bag of clothes, they get a free beer on us (hug) and the clothes (snugs) get donated to their nominated charity,” Williams explained.
He added: “We’ve always had a social conscience initiative within the business since we started because it was important for me to try and give a little something back, no matter how small.”
“It’s only myself on a day-to-day basis but its gathering momentum and something I would like to grow as an initiative,” he said.
The business’s lack of a permanent facility also led Williams to feel the cause was a good fit.
“Still self funding, we don’t own our own brewery and are proud of what we’ve been able to achieve,” the brewery website states.
“The best one we have done has been at the Roundhouse in Camden. The response from the staff was incredible and we ended up with a small room full of clothes that was donated to the Doorstep Families Project in Camden,” Williams said.
The next event will be held at the Ancient Mariner pub in Hove on Saturday 26 January, in conjunction with today’s National Hugging Day.
The pub will be collecting clothes, bedding, and shoes for charity Off the Fence, which runs a day centre for homeless people in Brighton & Hove.
Big Hug also hopes to partner with new charity Only A Pavement Away, which acts as a conduit between hospitality employers and homeless individuals.