Tuesday 17 January 2017

Cheers! Pubs toasted for providing pint-sized recipe for friendships

Published 25/01/2016 | 00:11

The social benefits of pubs have been highlighted in a report
The social benefits of pubs have been highlighted in a report

New research has confirmed what people who like a few drinks have always known - living near a pub makes you happier.

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A study by Oxford University found that regulars with a local pub nearby are "significantly" happier, have more friends, better life satisfaction, and actually drink in more moderation.

The report, for the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), highlighted the importance of face-to-face interaction.

It also revealed that social skills improve after a drink, while people were more likely to be engaged in conversations in small community pubs rather than larger establishments.

The study, conducted in pubs in Oxfordshire, also found that pubs played an integral role in providing venues where people could meet and make friends.

Professor Robin Dunbar of Oxford University, said: "Friendship and community are probably the two most important factors influencing our health and wellbeing.

"Making and maintaining friendships, however, is something that has to be done face-to-face. The digital world is simply no substitute.

"Given the increasing tendency for our social life to be online rather than face-to-face, having relaxed accessible venues where people can meet old friends and make new ones becomes ever more necessary."

Tim Page, chief executive of Camra, said: "Whilst we are delighted that such robust research highlights some of the many benefits of visiting a pub, I hardly expect the findings will be a great surprise to Camra members.

"Pubs offer a social environment to enjoy a drink with friends in a responsible, supervised community setting. Nothing is more significant for individuals, the social groupings to which they belong and the country as a whole as our personal and collective wellbeing.

"The role of community pubs in ensuring that wellbeing cannot be overstated. For that reason, we all need to do what we can to ensure that everyone has a 'local' near to where they live or work."

The report said pubs have played a key role in British social life since the 16th century.

"Pubs came to represent the heart and soul of a community, providing both a place of entertainment and an engine for community bonding.

"In a world before the arrival of the motorcar, the clientele was largely local and the pub provided a venue in which friendships and a sense of community were sustained.

"The closing decades of the 20th century have witnessed major changes in both the style of public houses and their numbers. In 1951, there were 73,421 pubs in England and Wales - within 20 years, this had fallen to 64,0873.

"Closures continued apace through the ensuing decades, with as many as 2,365 pubs closing in 2009 and a further 1,300 pubs in 2010.

"As of 2014, the number of pubs had declined to 51,9004, with pubs continuing to close at an average rate of 29 a week."

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