Kent pubs offer crucial support for communities during pandemic

Ei Group's Kent-based publicans have taken it upon themselves to raise both spirits and money to support their communities with various different initiatives, including the provision of complimentary meals for children, as well as free accommodation to key workers.

The news, which comes after the Government requested the closure of all pubs, with the exception of those offering takeaway services, clearly demonstrates the continued desire and passion of publicans across the county to act as a hub for their communities.

Ben and Luke Chell (pictured), the owners of the Sans Pariel, Wainscott, took the decision to run a free school meal delivery service for those who needed it after discovering that some of the less fortunate members of the community relied on the Government’s free school meal initiative, which has been halted due to the enforced closure of schools.

The initiative, which is run across Facebook, sees Ben and Luke’s team open up the pub’s kitchen every weekday morning to prepare meal packs, which are then delivered directly to those who have requested it. All packs are created following the necessary health and safety procedures and deliveries are made adhering to the social distancing regulations.

Within just a few days of the campaign launching on social media, it received over 110,000 views, 1,600 shares, 1,500 likes, and has currently generated £1,650 in donations.

Ben said, “Pubs have long been the central hub for communities, a place where people to go to spend quality time with family and friends, and with the enforced closure of sites, this is just my way of continuing to give back and provide a service.

'It’s in times of adversity that people pull together and do what they can to support one another. We’re very much looking forward to reaching the other side of this pandemic and welcoming the community back to the pub to share a drink, or two.”

Another example of a pub giving back to their communities is the Royal Oak, Hawkhurst, which has offered up its rooms free of charge to key workers, such as NHS workers and the police, who are looking for somewhere to stay in order to safeguard the people they live with.

Since launching the initiative on 21 March, the pub has been inundated with applications and they have been full ever since. The move clearly demonstrates the passionate and community-driven approach of the publican, who has set up a ‘camp kitchen’ in the premises for all of the guests to use.

Tom Stovold, Director of Revived Inns Ltd, owner of the Royal Oak, said, “We live in incredibly strange and challenging times with the fast-paced Coronavirus situation changing daily. One thing that’s remained the same, is our focus on the local community and we’re determined to do our bit to support those in need.

'Whilst we remain in lockdown, we wanted to show our support for the workers on the frontline helping fight the virus by making use of our vacant room. It is only a small gesture, but in times like these it’s all about everyone pulling together and doing their bit.”