Brewing Good Cheer for Banbury's isolated elders
Brewing Good Cheer, now in its fourth year, celebrates the role pubs play in communities by bringing people together for a festive event, especially those who might not often get a chance to visit their local.
Members of the Banbury community who are supported by Cornhill Companions, plus some of the charity’s volunteers, joined publican Nina Houston and her staff in the pub’s seventeenth century dining room for a three-course festive lunch, with a choice of roast beef, fish, a vegetarian option and, of course, traditional roast turkey with all the trimmings.
Avis Gallager, chair and volunteer coordinator for Cornhill Companions, said: “It’s so important on lots of different levels for people who are on their own to get out and socialise, meet other people and enjoy activities that make them feel normal.
"It’s immensely fulfilling to give people the opportunity to do this, help them make new friends and enjoy the little things that many of us take for granted, like meeting a friend for a coffee or popping to the local supermarket.
“So it was wonderful to be invited to the New Inn to enjoy a lovely three-course Christmas lunch with coffee and mince pies, especially as our own Christmas Day lunch isn’t able to go ahead this year.
"Not only did those who came enjoy the festive food, fun and good cheer, it was also special for our volunteers to enjoy the occasion; a thank you for all the kind work they do to help people in our local community who are often very isolated.
She added: "We know that many of those who came will be on their own over Christmas so it was lovely to see them enjoying the festivities.”
Cornhill Companions, part of the Royal Voluntary Service, is a befriending service which has been running in a voluntary capacity for two and a half years.
The scheme supports around 60 people who tend to be socially isolated, offering a befriending service, visiting peoples’ homes, making friendly regular phone calls, offering practical help such as grocery shopping or collecting repeat prescriptions, and also taking them out to enjoy social events.
Nina said: “We’re real foodies here at the New Inn and love inviting community groups into our dining room to enjoy the wonderful food we have on offer and feel part of something together.
"In a village like Middleton Cheney, it’s important to be part of the community and we regularly host functions for local groups including the local football club and amateur dramatics group.
“We love giving something back and Heineken’s Brewing Good Cheer campaign gives us another opportunity to do something for people in our community who are perhaps less mobile, fairly isolated or maybe can’t afford a nice Christmas lunch. It’s so important to give comfort and company to the lonely.
She added: "We’re delighted that Cornhill Companions and those they care for were able to join us for our very festive Christmas lunch on Tuesday. We hope to see many of them again in the year ahead but in the meantime, we wish them all a very merry Christmas.”
Pubs who take part in the campaign host free events such as Christmas lunches, coffee mornings or even a mince pie and a pint for charities and community groups.
Lawson Mountstevens, managing director for Star Pubs & Bars, Heineken UK said: “The Great British pub is at the heart of communities up and down the country. It’s a place where people from all walks of life can come together to meet old friends and make new ones.
“We’re delighted to be working with more of our pub licensees than ever for the fourth year of Brewing Good Cheer. In that time, we’ve worked with hundreds of pubs and brought together thousands of people, reminding and inspiring people to use their local.
"We want to bring people together, to show them exactly what our great pubs have to offer, not just at Christmas time but all year long.”
Other pubs also hosting a Brewing Good Cheer festive coffee morning, lunch or afternoon tea include The Musketeer in Longelandes Way.