The independent London newspaper

Closing pubs and social isolation; look at the link

08 February, 2018

• IN your January 25 issue you carried a piece on the subject of social isolation concerning an elderly person living alone, and found dead at home, and you also reported the closure of a public house.

For 26 years Aubrey Meredith was the landlord of The Empress of Russia in St John’s Street; he was a landlord who understood and valued the pub’s role in the community which it served in every sense.

One day, when a local regular failed to arrive as usual, after asking around and knowing the old man lived alone, Aubrey persuaded the council that there must be a very good reason why he wasn’t there and that they should investigate.

They found the old man, Wally, collapsed on the floor. He died a few days later in hospital receiving suitable care and comfort; far preferable to a neglected death on the floor of his room.

The issue is not only that public houses are closing. It is also that the modern interpretation of a pub includes no role in the community and is actually hostile to elderly folk who might value the opportunity of a few hours out of their social isolation.

Incidentally together with Bob Davenport, one of your regular corespondents, I ran the traditional music nights at the Empress and people arriving from all over the country would remark on the community spirit within the pub and the welcome they received from the regulars.

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