18 December 2014 | Volunteering blogs | Back to Blog

Keeping local pubs alive to fight social isolation

By Josh Clarke

1544383_597794233607544_321354110_nHackney Irish Social Club started as a hangout for a few friends who wanted to play records and have pints on a Thursday. We were welcomed into the Prince Edward in Homerton who offered to do a pot of curry for everyone who came along. The face of pubs in Hackney is changing rapidly, and with free curry, £3 beers, a decent pool table and friendly regulars the Prince Edward represents an old style of community pub that is almost dead in most parts of London. They throw customer appreciation parties all through the year, attracting loyal customers from all over London, offering free food, running pool competitions and attracting quality local DJ’s with years of experience playing parties and sound systems all over London. We want to support this and hope to use the Hackney Irish Social Club to spread the word about pubs like the Prince Edward. Battling increasing rents and competition from craft and gastropubs traditional boozers need greater traffic to survive.

Last year The Prince Edward faced threat of closure when the landlord applied for planning permission to turn the building into luxury flats and a commercial space. Following a campaign run by the pub against closure Hackney Council ruled against planning, saying that the pub was still under lease, was of great importance to the community and that luxury flats would not be in keeping with the look of the area, Homerton being a mostly densely populated and disadvantaged area. The abiding worry at the time was that if the pub closed regulars would not find a new pub, they would just drink at home. Pubs can be a front room away from home, a safe sociable space, a reason to get out of the house and chat to people. Loneliness and isolation in the most densely populated parts of the UK are massive issues. Taking pubs away will leave some members of the community with no link to the outside world.

All we’re saying is support local if you can at all. If you like to go out for a drink have a wander round your area and consider one of the older boozers. Running Hackney Irish Social Club has introduced us to people we wouldn’t otherwise have met. It’s made London a little more homely for us and makes us feel more a part of east London.

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