Banbury pub launches weekly meet-up group to help provide safe place for people to talk

A Banbury pub has launched a weekly meet-up group to provide a safe place for people to talk coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 5:16 pm
Members of the Monday Meet-up group at The Pigeons Inn pub pose for a photo with the pub's owner - Tina Laird - and meet-up scheme coordinator Lara McDonagh.
Members of the Monday Meet-up group at The Pigeons Inn pub pose for a photo with the pub's owner - Tina Laird - and meet-up scheme coordinator Lara McDonagh.

The group, simply known as the Monday Meet-up group, meets each Monday from 12 to 2pm at The Three Pigeons Inn pub located in Southam Road, Banbury

Lara McDonagh, who works at the pub and launched the scheme, said: "While Covid was going on we noticed people were desperate to talk to someone. It's just been really really lonely times.

"When you stop having to do school runs and as you get older it is harder to get out and make new friends."

The group has grown from four or five people each week to 20 to 30 people attending each week. The group, which started a couple of months ago in April, now has its own What's App group.

Lara added: "It's just gone from strength to strength since we started in April. Each week we're just seeing more and more people."

The weekly event has really started to bring people together in the community.

Lara said: "One lady's not long lost her husband, and another lady is new to the area. It's people of all different ages too. My mum comes every week too.

"It's really really good. It's wonderful to see them all laughing and having a good time together."

Each week the group now hosts a quiz and bingo game, which usually starts around 12.30pm after people have had an opportunity to get a drink or something to eat. The bingo and pub quiz are usually run through a donation pot put out each week.

Lara added: "The games are good ice breakers for people to get to know each other. It is prize bingo, but it's more about coming out for a bit of fun than the prizes."

The group sells cakes, and any money made goes the local charity the Banbury Homeless Project.

The group hopes to host a summer fete in the pub garden, Covid restrictions allowing, with a bouncy castle and barbecue over the summer holidays.

Over the May bank holiday Monday they hosted a 'family fun day' at the pub's garden.

The group is open to anyone who would like to join on each Monday from 12 to 2pm.