During this crazy crisis we find ourselves in, people unable to work have been finding different ways to stay productive and fill their time. Pub landlords have been hit particularly hard, but Hoylake landlords Loz Shirley and Victoria Ponsonby and their staff have been serving their community via their amazing project, More Than Beer.
Whilst larger companies have been under fire for their greed and love of money, pub landlords Loz and Victoria decided instead to use the lockdown situation to help local people. Having transformed The Lake into a thriving hub of live music and having recently taken over The Ship, the crisis put a hold on all their hard work — but rather than wallowing in self pity, they have set up an incredible community project.
Firstly, the couple donated all their broached beer in stock to locals and regulars — giving away over £3,000 worth of beer! They then assembled their team of staff to voluntarily help the elderly, vulnerable and key workers by offering phone calls, support, errands, deliveries and by delivering up to 80 meals per day.
Loz told us: “This situation has affected us all badly, so we decided to have a long, hard think about what we were going to do. We thought about what the pub represents — a place that serves the community. We’ve always been very community focussed so decided to set up More Than Beer.”
He continued: “Many places are offering a delivery service, but rather than just jump on the bandwagon we thought we’d be better off serving the people who need help free of charge. We started by getting the phone numbers of all the local people who may need support, as many of them may not be on Facebook, and it’s grown to be really successful via word of mouth.”
The amazing work of Loz, Victoria and their staff has inspired other businesses to get involved too. Contributing to their food and care packages are Colin Lunt’s grocers, Fahy’s bakery, Hoylake Fisheries, Hoylake Pantry, Scott’s butchers, Noonan Catering, the Co-Op and Sainsbury’s.
Victoria, who also works at a local food bank, said: “It’s really heart warming how everyone has come together and it’s a triumph for community spirit. Isolation can be really tough for some and mental health can suffer badly, so we’ve put together a project that offers not only food, supplies and errands to those in need but also emotional support and people to talk to. We of course follow social distancing and hygiene guidelines very strictly too.”
Taking things a step further, Loz and Victoria are planning a huge online charity festival for V.E Day on 8th May, in conjunction with West Kirby Live and Hoylake Live. Via live stream, there will be over 24 musicians, comedy, magic, cooking and cocktail masterclasses, kids entertainment and more, whilst raising money for those who need support and creating care packages to be delivered.
In these times of hardship, it’s reassuring and inspiring to know that there are some great people out there making a difference. Whilst some well known brands have mistreated their staff and thought for themselves, Loz, Victoria and their team have stepped up and become heroes of the crisis — let’s make sure we remember this when places re-open.