In unprecedented times, The Wheatsheaf Pub in Ashton-on-Ribble has been keeping vulnerable regulars as happy customers.Advertisement
The pub has been giving free home cooked meals to their vulnerable regulars during the lockdown.
Many people are isolated at home for at least 12 weeks due to their age or underlying health conditions and have struggled to get food shopping during the pandemic, so Elizabeth and Brian Luxton decided to help.
The operators of the Water Lane pub have been delivering baskets with meals and snacks up to five times a week to ensure that their older regulars get through the pandemic.
As their work was noticed, more people were nominated as being in need on social media and Brian and Elizabeth have gone from delivering nine meals to over 20.
Elizabeth said: “We do hotpots, sausage casserole, they might have a nice salad, pasta, homemade soup.
“Some days there will be two or three things in, and everything is homemade and fresh.”
One thing Elizabeth and Brian wanted to ensure with the deliveries was that there is a good mix of food that is nutritious.
Elizabeth says she always tries to mix up what meals are in the baskets, as well as giving people a piece of fruit.
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“We delivered liver and onion and people were saying they hadn’t had it for years.
“These are meals they probably wouldn’t make themselves.”
The couple also deliver a roast dinner and dessert every Sunday, and everyone received an Easter egg and hot cross bun on their Easter Sunday delivery.
The operators have been helping those in need since the start of the lockdown, and on Thursday 8 May, the government announced that they would provide up to £16 million to food charities to provide help for those in need.
Ministers believe that at least 5,000 frontline charities will benefit from the fund, including charities FareShare and the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), which will allow them to deliver meals over the next 12 weeks.
Elizabeth and Brian have been taking precautions to keep everyone safe by delivering the food in baskets and keeping their distance to avoid possible transmission.
The couple also find it important to try to have a chat with the regulars if possible, as some of them have been visiting the pub for well over a decade, and the couple say they’re looking forward to seeing them back in the pub when they can do so.
Robin Dunbar, Professor of Evolutionary Psychology at the University of Oxford has studied the psychology behind regulars frequenting their local pub.
Professor Dunbar’s study showed that having a local pub, especially for older people who are lonely, can have a great effect on their mental wellbeing.
He said: “What they are effectively doing is keeping those pub community relationships going by knocking on the door.
“By just delivering the meals and saying ‘Hello, here is your lunch from the pub’, that alone is going to keep that relationship from the pub ticking over.
“When people are allowed back in the pubs, they will be able to go in with the same level of relationship they had before.”
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Whilst posting on social media, Elizabeth and Brian have heard back from family members of those receiving meals as well as having members of the public offer help to the couple.
Debbie Booth said: “Absolutely amazing, your kindness to others will pay off for you when the pub door’s open again.”
Tony Summer said: “Keep up the good work, if you need anything give me shout.”
And Craig Mayor added: “Thanks Liz and Brian. My grandad loves these meals. You’re spoiling them all.”
Elizabeth and Brian hope to continue their work, but it is the community support and donations that are making it possible.
Donations initially came from Gary Roberts, the director of the Amber Taverns pub group, which runs the Wheatsheaf Pub.
Since then, the couple have received donations from the local community, with some of their younger regulars bringing in food to do their bit.
Elizabeth said: “We really appreciate everyone giving us the donations and everything they are doing.
“It’s helping us help the people that can’t go out.”
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What do you think of Elizabeth and Brian’s charitable actions? Have you received meals from them? Let us know in the comments.