The Craufurd Arms is a pint-sized community owned pub in Maidenhead that is tackling social isolation and becoming a hub for creating long-lasting relationships. Like many other pubs, they’ve been hugely impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. 

We spoke with Mark Newcombe, one of the Founding Members to hear about how they are navigating a changing world.

You can listen to the full podcast here, a joint collaboration episode with The Plunkett Foundation. In this blog post, we round up five of our key learnings from speaking with Mark, one of the Founding Members. 

1. There are a range of funding and finance tools available

The key is the work out which one (or which combination) is the right one for your organisation in any given circumstance.

The pub is well known for bringing people together, and has received funding via grants, multiple types of social investment and crowdfunding.

The image below highlights the various types of funding The Craufurd Arms have accessed during its start-up and growth phase, as well as funding needed to stay afloat after the COVID-19 crisis unfolded.

Starting up

2. Good planning can be really helpful to provide clarity in trying times

Mark shared how important it was to have a robust business plan and a clear idea of the social impact they wanted to make was.

When working with social investors, it’s really helpful to have a plan in place for both financial projections and social impact plans so you’re able to communicate these clearly when working with funders. Social investors in particular will be interested to learn more about both the financial return as well as the social impact.

Here are some tools that might be helpful:

3. It’s essential to adapt & plan for changing times

Before social distancing measures were announced, the Craufurd Arms has excelled against their business plan for three years. However, they knew they had to start adapting and responding quickly. Here are some measures they’ve taken:

  • Pivoting their services: opening for two socially distanced hours a day providing a walk through real ale takeaway service
  • Supporting local needs: collecting for the local food share and providing a book share for the community
  • Thinking about the new normal: planning has begun to enable the pub to operate in a socially distance way in the short to medium term  

4. Clear communication will help you find support

Engaging with your community and stakeholders well help you – both to keep them engaged and also to find the support you need.

By talking to as many of the right people as possible, you may discover new avenues of support or build relationships with those who are in the same boat.

Both these things can help keep you going, and to make sure you’re not going it alone.

Find more information on communicating with stakeholders here or coping during a crisis here.

5. It’s vital to protect community spaces in the era of social distancing

Community led pubs are a space for people from all walks for life to come together. They act as a central meeting point – work gets done, ideas get formed, bonds get built.

Places like The Craudfurd Arms create space for people and communities to come together plays a vital role in enabling social cohesion and tackling isolation.

When these spaces like this are lost, they leave a gap in the community. It’s amazing to think of all the ways we’ve adapted to a virtual world during times of social distancing, but it’s also important we think about how we protect and nurture community businesses and social impact organisations as we move to the new normal.

Find out more about the Build Back Better campaign here.