Heartbreak of pub’s elderly regulars stuck at home in lockdown

Pubs are important places for lonely people over the festive period, a Greene King survey has found Picture: ADAM SMYTH

Pubs are important places for lonely people over the festive period, a Greene King survey has found Picture: ADAM SMYTH - Credit: Archant

A ban on pub visits over the festive season could lead to an outbreak of loneliness, a pub landlady has warned.

42% of people celebrating Christmas said they will miss going to the pub with friends, a Greene King survey has found Pictu...

42% of people celebrating Christmas said they will miss going to the pub with friends, a Greene King survey has found Picture: ADAM SMYTH - Credit: Archant

Lou Skinner, general manager of Greene King pub the Grapes in Bury St Edmunds, said it was “heart-breaking” in lockdown as many of her elderly regulars get lonely.

A survey by the pubs and brewing giant found that three quarters of East Anglians believe pubs are important places for lonely people during the festive period.

MORE — East’s logistics sector ‘set to make big gains in 2021’, says developer“I know a lot of my elderly regulars are lonely or vulnerable and sadly we’ve lost a few along the way this year, but a lot are still in contact,” said Ms Skinner.

“During the lockdowns I’ve wanted to help the community and do something to put a smile on their face. I took a hotpot around to a neighbour who is now thankfully in remission with cancer and it was like he’d won a million dollars.

“Christmas used to be about looking after people and making them feel special. It’s a heart-breaking time right now, particularly with the pub not being able to be open for our locals who get lonely at this time of year.”


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She is hoping to hold a Christmas party with her regulars – as long as restrictions allow, she said.

“I’ll be putting on games and presents for them. Christmas is so uncertain, so whatever we do we have to make it magical. Until then I’ll be cooking them the odd roast dinner to cheer them up.”

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A consumer survey conducted by Greene King and YouGov, found that in the East of England almost half (45%) of people usually go to the pub with friends and family in the lead-up to Christmas.

Most people (81%) choose to spend Christmas Eve at home, but just under a fifth (18%) said they typically spend it at the pub with friends and family.

The online survey found 42% of those who celebrate Christmas said they will miss going to the pub with friends and family this year if coronavirus restrictions remain in place, second only to attending parties and events at the homes of friends and family (56%).

Greg Sage, corporate affairs director at Greene King, said: “The festive season is an important time of year for families and friends, and pubs are the heartbeat of the community, providing a place for loved ones to spend quality time together.

“We know that this Christmas is unlikely to be like any other, but we also recognise that people in East of England really want to be able to visit pubs and be able to socialise safely and it’s especially important for those who would otherwise find themselves alone.

“That is why earlier this year we invested a significant amount of money in our Pub Safe measures to ensure the protection of our customers and team members and we want to be able to open as many of our pubs as possible this Christmas.”

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