Kent pub’s café society
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The opening of a community café at the George in Bethersden, Kent, is helping to bring people together, creating new ways for them to connect and giving new meaning to “popping to the local”.
The George Café, which launched a month after the pub reopened as a community enterprise, provides an opportunity for people living alone, mothers and toddlers, families, and groups to meet and socialise in a relaxed environment and welcoming space.
The free house, which can trace its origins back to the 17th century, closed during the second lockdown in 2020. A group of residents launched a campaign to buy the pub, setting up the George Community Ltd, a community benefit society, in August 2021 and took over the pub in February 2023.
Nearby residents and home-workers are also being encouraged to bring their laptops to take advantage of the super-fast Wi-Fi and work in the comfort of the café – #WFTG rather than just #WFH.
The café was opened with the help and a community services fund grant from Pub is The Hub. An initiative to support local artists is also being launched, giving them wall space to display pieces which are also for sale.
The George’s community officer Michele Sadler (pictured) said: “The café has been a great success at bringing new customers into the pub as well as reconnecting the village as a whole and helping people locally to overcome loneliness and isolation. There is a warm welcome for everyone at the George Café.”
Pub is The Hub regional advisor Tim Tempest said: “This pub is truly at the heart of its community. This café will become a focal point for villagers to come together and provide an opportunity for more social interaction in this rural area.”