Pubs & Wellbeing

Friends on Tap

"Friends on Tap - The role of pubs at the heart of the community" is a report prepared for CAMRA by Professor Robin Dunbar, of the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford. Download the full report here Friends on Tap

• Nothing is more significant, both to our lives and to the national economy, than our health and happiness. The more friends you have, the happier and healthier you are
• While 40% of people in the UK now typically socialise with friends in someone’s home, a third of the population prefer to do so in pubs, and regard pubs as a safe place to meet friends
• Pubs, and small community pubs in particular, provide a safe environment in which to meet old and new friends face to face over a drink. The pub offers an enriching environment where we have the opportunity to meet a greater diversity of people from all walks of life than we might otherwise be able to do
• This report is based on a national poll of pub use and two studies of behaviour in pubs undertaken to assess the social value of small community pubs compared to large city centre pubs
• Almost a quarter of the UK population declared that they had a ‘local’ that they patronised regularly; their ‘local’ was characteristically close to where they lived or worked
• People who said they have a ‘local’ or those who patronise small community pubs have more close friends on whom they can depend for support, are more satisfied with their lives and feel more embedded in their local communities than those who said they do not have a local pub
• Friendships are created and maintained mainly by face-to-face interaction, even in the internet age – yet people in large city centres pubs are likely to be less engaged with their conversation group and more likely to leave a conversation than those in small community pubs, and their social interactions appear to be more transient as a result
• Small community pubs are more likely to be ‘beer-based’ and less likely to be ‘wine/spirit-based’. People in community pubs typically consume less alcohol than those in large city centre pubs
• There is evidence that modest alcohol consumption improves both cognitive ability and some (but not all) aspects of health
• Directly and indirectly (by allowing us to meet face-to-face), modest alcohol consumption also enables us to build friendships and create a sense of community, and there is considerable evidence that social network size and quality has dramatic effects on health, wellbeing, happiness and even survival
• We recommend that publicans and pub owners work closely with their community to develop a local community atmosphere
• We recommend that city planners and developers make greater efforts to ensure that communities have local pubs readily available to them
• Government policy on beer tax and business rate relief should consider the positive impacts which community pubs have on health and wellbeing
• If we can persuade people to get off their smart phones and get down to the pub to talk to each other, it is likely to have dramatic effects on health and wellbeing, as well as community cohesion