Speaking at a recent All Party Parliamentary Beer Group meeting, Richard Kershaw, ceo of Manchester-based Joseph Holt, used the opportunity to highlight a few of the different groups that use his pubs to gather.
He said: “Our pubs provide amazing support for our communities and by way of example, I wanted to give you five surprising group activities that take place in some of our Joseph Holt pubs on a regular basis.”
They included a group that provides help for people with dementia and alzheimers, Menopause Sucks Group, Carers Get Together, chair-based exercise sessions for older customers and indoor curling for older people in care, and often with disabilities.
He added: “It would be hard to imagine a supermarket doing any of this for the community.”
Joseph Holt runs 125 pubs across the north west of England, predominantly under a retail agreement model, and Kershaw says the community engagement is driven by the pub operators themselves coming up with creative ways to engage.
As well as the five unusual groups highlighted by Kershaw, the company’s pubs host a huge range of different activities for all members of the community, from running clubs and toddler groups, through to painting classes and men’s mental health groups.
The company has also helped support a social pie making enterprise HMPasties, a business founded by a former young offender, Lee Wakeham, that offers help and support to people leaving prison and reintegrating back into society.
Two of the company’s collaborative pies, the Steak and Ale, and the Cheese and Onion have gone onto both win gold awards at the Great British Pie Awards.
Kershaw added: “Nationally, our pubs provide some wonderful support for local communities, as well as being a safe and controlled place to drink.”
He welcomed the Government’s step to introduce a tax differential for draught beer in pubs and cans and bottles in supermarkets. However, he said more needed to be done with this:
“It is an excellent start that the Government has introduced a 10p differential. This provides badly needed help for pubs as draught beer volumes are still 10% below where they were pre-Covid.
“In order for this policy to be successful in the long term, the differential in duty between beer sold in a pub compared to bottles and cans in the supermarket needs to be widened, to 50p and beyond.”