While government legislation is necessary to help mitigate the damage sustained through global warming, it’s wrong to think individuals can’t make a difference. Like other concerned businesses in the hospitality sector, a publican in North Yorkshire is doing everything he can to tackle climate change.
Rob Davidson, who runs The Station Hotel in Northallerton, firmly believes that if everyone does their bit, no matter how small, it will make a difference. Whether it’s leaving the car at home some days or sticking on an extra jumper instead of turning the heat up, Rob says we can all take steps to reduce our carbon footprints.
Low food miles
‘Locally sourced’ is a phrase often touted about by restaurants and cafés, but The Station takes it seriously. They’re trying to keep food miles as low as possible, which is why their meat, sausages, eggs, cakes, preserves, and fruit & veg are all supplied from Northallerton businesses or others less than 25 miles away. Many of Rob’s suppliers are also customers, so it’s not only community focussed, it’s helping to boost the local economy as well. And it doesn’t hurt that the area is home to some fabulous local producers, such as Langthorne’s Buffalo Farm and Caroline’s Homemade Preserves.
We all know how detrimental plastic straws are to wildlife and the environment in general, but it’s difficult for pubs to ban straws altogether. At least the paper variety are biodegradable, which is what The Station uses. And if you hate the taste of polystyrene when trying to enjoy your hot drink, Rob agrees, which is why he serves his Italian coffee in paper cups. No plastic stirrers either. Paper cups aren’t a perfect solution, leading to some cafés taking the bold decision to stop single-use cups altogether, but sales drastically drop off when they do, as most people aren’t yet in the habit of bringing their own. Clever establishments sell silicone and metal drinking containers in case people forget to bring one. As all The Station’s food has a takeaway option, Rob will soon be sourcing biodegradable containers from Vegware.com. While polystyrene has a lower carbon footprint than aluminium and plastic, it’s not recycled widely enough, so ends up in landfill. And because polystyrene is light, containers are easily blown around, resulting in litter and marine pollution. Aluminium is recycled, however the energy used to produce the containers renders it one of the worst choices. To read more about the damaging impact of traditional takeaway containers, read this article from the University of Manchester.
Because helping the environment includes helping people, The Station are a drop-off site for Hambleton Foodshare, a charity that provides emergency food parcels to those in desperate need.
To reduce the amount of coal used to heat the pub, The Station burns waste wood that would otherwise end up in landfill. Little steps, but they make a difference. The Station isn’t close to being carbon neutral, but Rob is continuously trying to come up with ways to reduce its carbon footprint – which is what all businesses should be doing.
The heading isn’t referring to dogs (although welcome at the pub), but rather the bird feeders, bird boxes, and bat boxes that have been installed around the property. Having bats around to keep the midge population down can only be a good thing when you’re enjoying a pint on a summer evening in the beer garden. And with hedges being torn up for housing and fencing, species such as sparrows need all the help they can get to raise offspring. Because the bee population has been declining rapidly, there are wild flowers and other plants to attract nature’s pollinators.
Consumers can force change
While Rob Davidson is deeply concerned about global warming, he also knows the positive PR of going low carbon won’t do his business any harm. One of the most powerful ways to affect change is by choosing greener businesses. You might already be signed up to a green energy company, but it’s important to look more closely at all the organisations you patronise. Is your bank investing in fossil fuels or fracking, for instance? How eco-friendly are the products used by your hairdresser and beauty therapist? Choosing to spend your money at establishments actively reducing their carbon footprints will push other businesses to do the same. Consumers have the power to move mountains, and global warming is one mountain that must be tackled within the next 12 years. Next time you fancy a pint, call in at The Station and say “Cheers” to Rob!
Once upon a time, there was a pub on every corner of every town and city, and most villages had at least one – affectionately known as ‘the local’. Many of the shells of these public houses are still standing, but no longer as the community hubs they once were, rather as convenience stores. Some have been obliterated out of existence to make way for residential properties. A sign of the times you might think, because, after all, it’s cheaper to drink at home, and who doesn’t like loud bars bedecked with industrialised chic where the in-crown hang out to get hammered? But the community pub is about much more than pulling pints.
A true community pub is where locals get together to have a chat, play dominoes or darts, and wind down after a hard week. You might say that’s available at any bar, and to a certain extent it is, but the neighbourhood pub is ‘your’ pub; somewhere you can walk to easily and see the same faces. It’s familiar and comfortable, where everyone can feel safe. There’s no need for bouncers, because everyone looks out for each other, and acceptable behaviour is mandatory or you’re out the door. And you’ll meet regulars who stand or sit in the same spot every time they come.
While traditional Locals of old didn’t tend to serve food (unless you count pickled eggs and pork scratchings), today’s publican understands that his/her clientele are more sophisticated and enjoy eating out. Sub-standard microwaved ready meals that were so commonly offered as ‘pub grub’ a decade or so ago, have made way for in-house, chef-prepared dishes made from local, seasonal produce. Offering food accesses a new audience: people who like to dine out, but who wouldn’t necessarily visit a pub just for a drink. Serving food allows the whole family to visit the pub together, as opposed to modern bars, where children might not be welcome. Opening early for commuters to grab good coffee and a takeaway Full English widens the customer scope further. Catering for dietary requirements such as gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan indicates a forward-thinking establishment.
Man’s (and woman’s) best friend
Things have gone full circle here. Punters always went to the pub accompanied by their whippets, greyhounds, lurchers, and Jack Russells, etc., but then it was deemed unhealthy, so dogs were banned from most public houses. The community publican understands the attachment between a dog and its owner, so it welcomes well-behaved pooches, and even keeps a water bowl filled and a few treats handy.
The community watering hole is the place to meet. Punters enjoy the regular activities like the weekly quiz and dominoes, while for local groups and clubs, it’s the place to hold meetings. And clever managers know that by offering meeting space for free, it not only encourages more custom, it gives something back. Ideally, the more eclectic the users, the better, as the Local should be there for everyone. It can be used for darts leagues, book clubs, crafting groups, workshops, and the local am-dram players. Businesses and charities can use it for their AGMs, training seminars, social events, and recruitment. It doesn’t hurt if the kitchen can whip up some tasty and reasonably priced refreshments to make the meetings more enjoyable.
Where better to celebrate something or someone than in the community pub? It’s the ideal place for making merry or commiserating after the footie game. You can lap up the well-wishing at your special birthday party or retirement. Bask in the warmth of heartfelt condolences after a loved one’s funeral. A buffet always goes down well with guests, and having the pub cater the event removes the stress of having to prepare it yourself. You may choose to celebrate in a private room or commune with the regulars, depending on whether you see them as your extended family.
Lend a hand
Community pubs are often prolific at fund-raising for those who need it most. In addition to strewing a few collecting tins on the bar (and thumbs up for that), they are proactive with local charities. Entertaining special events are held to raise money, such as ‘family fun days’. If you’d like some tips for creating successful fund raising events, read How to Organise the Perfect Charity Fundraiser.
These days, when we seem to have better relationships with phones than with people, the local pub provides a place where we can really connect with each other and be part of something that still matters – the community.
Okay, there’s no such thing as perfect, but with a little research, and by following the guidelines in this blog, you should be able to organise a successful charity fundraiser. To allow yourself plenty of time to get it right, start the planning process at least six months in advance. As far as dates go, avoid major school holidays and the middle of the month, as most people get paid at the end.
1. Set your budget
Whatever type of fundraiser you hold, you’ll have expenses to cover. Unless you’re paying all the bills, you’ll need income from ticket sales and sponsorship. Work out the total cost of holding the event and divide it by the total number of expected guests. Then decide how much profit you’d like to raise from ticket sales and divide that by the number of guests. Add those two figures together and you’ve got the price you need to charge for the ticket. It must be reasonable enough that it’s offering value for money, but not so cheap that it renders the event pointless.
2. Event type
Bake sales are popular, but unless you’re organising the ‘World’s Biggest Coffee Morning’, the amount you raise will be modest. For a chance of making some real money, be bold! People are willing to pay more if they know they’ll be entertained. The event could be as simple as a ‘curry and quiz night’, or a ‘pie & peas supper with tombola’, but if you really want to push the boat out, offer great food, wine, and the chance for people to strut their stuff on the dance floor. Some of the most popular fundraisers are balls, and while you don’t need to go that far, a fun evening of dinner and dancing could pay dividends.
It’s not essential to give your fundraiser a theme, but it adds another element and acts like an ice breaker. Some ideas to consider:
· Attire/accessory linked to your charity’s brand colours
· Silly hats
· Hollywood icons or cult films
· Cuddly toy mascot (great if it’s a children’s charity)
Bear in as mind as you organise the perfect charity fundraiser, that any form of dressing up will deter a percentage of your prospective customers.
If you’ve got your heart set on an after-dark fundraiser, you need to find a suitable venue. Somewhere that’s easily accessible by public transport is advisable, as it allows people to come from outside the area and not have to rely on taxis to get home. If the venue are supplying the food and drink for quite a few guests, you shouldn’t be asked to pay for room hire as well – especially as it’s for charity. Decide if you’d like a private room or if you’re prepared to mingle with the public. If it’s during the summer, check out venues that have suitable outdoor space. Some will accommodate marquees – but that will escalate costs. Taking photos of the room will help you plan the decorations and layout. Decorations don’t have to break the bank. You can pick up some reasonable bits and bobs from the Pound Shop, eBay, or a cash & carry. A few flowers, ribbon, and candles should suffice, but be creative. Here are some ideas to get you started on Pinterest.
5. Food and drink
Discuss food options and prices with the venue, then arrange to sample the dishes ahead of time. Ensure they can cater for dietary requirements such as gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan. You don’t need to provide a three-course, sit-down dinner; a two-course buffet is more than adequate, with a few pre-dinner nibbles thrown in. Unless everything is finger food, your guests will need to sit down, so arrange for plenty of tables and chairs. You can play it safe and serve typical British buffet staples such as quiche and sausage rolls, or you can be adventurous and provide international cuisine. As not everyone likes spicy food, stick to medium and mild, or offer an alternative. Ensure the venue has a contingency plan in case the chef is ill on the day. As many people enjoy wine with a meal, find out what varieties can be made available and the cost. If the venue wants to charge £30 a bottle for plonk, ask what the corkage fee would be, and buy the wine from Aldi!
Depending on the venue, you should have the option of a live band or DJ (or both). The band will generally cost more than a DJ, but if you want to organise the perfect charity fundraiser, live music will sell it more. Of course, you could be miserly and use a playlist on your phone, but you’d still need to hire a PA. Make sure there’s an area for dancing where folks won’t be bumping into furniture. If hiring a band, avoid anything too niche. You want something that everyone can enjoy. Funk and soul, pop, and classic rock usually go down well. You might like death metal, but it’s unlikely everyone will. Try to use a local band, as they might be more inclined to give you a discount. Don’t ask for a freebie; it’s not cool.
7. Additional ways to raise funds
An auction will break up the evening and is an entertaining way to add more funds to the piggy bank. Find someone with a theatrical side to act as auctioneer, or you could ask your local auction house if they’d participate. Although not as much fun, a silent auction spares people the embarrassment of everyone knowing who bid and who didn’t. But there’s nothing like people showing off after a few drinks and competing to buy that spa day or car valeting. As an alternative, or in addition to the auction, a raffle or tombola is perfect for more modest prizes, allowing everyone to get involved.
You will need to contact every medium-to-large local business in the area well in advance to ask for donations. Write, email, phone, or visit as many as you can. If there aren’t many businesses in the immediate locale, go further afield. Start with companies where you do business; your loyalty should count for something. Quite a few organisations won’t respond to your letter or email, and quite a few more will decline, but hopefully you’ll receive enough prizes for your efforts. Offer to publicise all donations, as free marketing is a good carrot to dangle.
Before you confirm anything, conduct some market research on the idea you’ve chosen – even if it just involves asking your colleagues, friends, and family what they think. Ask for honest feedback and suggestions. Once you’re happy to proceed, you’ll need to start marketing. Contact the publicity office for your chosen charity, as they might send you balloons and other publicity materials, plus they should share it on their website. You can create an event on Facebook for free and share it publicly, but to really get the word out, pay a few quid to boost it. More people will see it that way, and you can choose location, age, and interests. You could also consider an Eventbrite landing page for purchasing tickets, but the downside is that you’d have to pay a fee. Several months before the big day, start using Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to publicise the event. If you have a LinkedIn profile, post it there as well, as you might get businesses willing to offer sponsorship or buy tickets. Eventbrite have published a ‘how-to’ blog with some great tips.
9. Attention to detail
About a week before the event, contact the venue to make sure all the arrangements are still in place, particularly the food for anyone with dietary requirements. They’ll want final numbers by then. Find out what time the room can be accessed on the day for the band or DJ to set up, and for you to decorate, set up the raffle, tombola, auction, etc. Display the prizes attractively and ensure they’re easily seen. If lighting is subdued, buy some clip-on spot lights for the prize table. Ask for a few confident volunteers to push raffle tickets and operate the tombola, as you will be far too busy.
10. During the fundraiser.
While it might be a bit hard watching everyone enjoy a drink or five, because you’ll be ‘on duty’ during the event, you’ll need to keep a clear head. If there are elderly or disabled guests, make sure they’re comfortable and have everything they need. Work the room and chat to as many people as possible, and don’t forget to thank them for their support. Your guests need to feel appreciated. If successful, this fundraiser might become an annual event, so you need to schmooze. Hold the auction between courses; this way you’ve got a captive audience, and everyone will have had a drink or two. When selling raffle tickets, take phone numbers in case people with winning tickets have left before the draw takes place.
11. Count your money
If you’ve done your homework and followed the above advice, there’s no reason your fundraiser shouldn’t be a success. But if it isn’t, have a debriefing session and try again! Don’t forget to send thank you letters or emails to sponsors, donors, and guests, and let them know the total you raised. Now pat yourself on the back and put your feet up – you’ve earned it!