The Gardeners Rest, Sheffield, South Yorkshire
One pub to benefit from the original More Than a Pub project – The Gardeners Rest, which opened in October 2017 – saw more than 400 locals invest between £100 and £5,000 each to become society members and democratic owners of the community pub.
The venue now provides employment opportunities and a meeting space for vulnerable adults and people with learning difficulties in the area while continuing to be a music venue, an activity centre and a place for local artists and photographers to exhibit their work.
Discussing the return of More Than a Pub, the Gardeners Rest director Mark Powell explained: “The programme made the difference between buying a pub and investing in More Than a Pub – we have stayed focused on our community purpose because of this. It would have been too easy to have done otherwise in the first year of a new commercial venture.”
Funded by Power to Change and delivered by The Plunkett Foundation, the latest iteration of More Than a Pub builds on the success of the original programme that backed 190 community groups and saw 28 community-owned pubs open between 2016 and 2019 – with many more venues listed as assets of community value (ACVs).
The £2.2m worth of bespoke community funding pledged under the new programme will support more communities in their efforts to take control of their local over the next 18 months.
The programme will back new and existing pub projects that benefit their immediate community by reducing social isolation, creating better access to services increasing employability, fostering greater community cohesion, pride and empowerment, or improving health and wellbeing.
Delivered in collaboration with key stakeholders in the community pub sector, the programme will offer a flexible range of support services to community groups, including an advice line, events, training, workshops, peer-to-peer study visits and business development advice.
In addition, flexible bursaries will be available for early-stage activity, with a grant and loan package in place to help pubs open and begin trading.
“Pubs are often the last hub in their community,” Power to Change chief executive Vidhya Alakeson explained. “They are important places where people come together and they provide a diversity of services, including lunch clubs for vulnerable people, training and development, gardening and cooking classes and parenting groups.
“Community pubs are so valuable to the people who use them.
“The first round of the More than a Pub programme we ran with Plunkett was an enormous success, so it was a natural decision for us to continue to support this thriving and much-loved sector.”
Build on momentum and success
“Plunkett is delighted to be launching the return of More Than a Pub. In its first iteration, this programme significantly increased the number of community-owned pubs open and trading, bringing far-reaching benefits to local people,” The Plunkett Foundation executive director James Alcock added.
“This second round of funding will mean that we can build on the momentum and success of the existing community pub sector and help many more community groups seeking to take ownership of their local pub to save them from closure.
“For many communities, pubs are not just a place to drink; they are central to people’s sense of place and identity, they provide an important place for people to meet and help to build community cohesion.”