Thursday, 27 August 2015

End of August??

Tilly - one of our four legged friends!
End of August?? How the Hell did that happen?? Did I blink and miss it or have I been so busy wishing it would be the end of the season it passed me by in a haze or did we merely sail through it?? 

Actually, this year (I almost dread to say it as we haven't had Bank Holiday weekend yet) has been as busy as ever yet thanks to yet another fantastic summer season team it seems to have been a fair bit easier!On the bar yet again this year we've been blessed to have Toby - who took to it like a duck to water. On the floor we've had our runners; George, Ellen, Emily, Olivia, Grace and Alex. Assistants wise we've had Will- i -Am, Jess, Violet & Lauren.  In the kitchen we've had Nick and Emily - they have all worked their little socks off and for those who were waiting for exam results they have ALL done very, very well! Congratulations to all of our fantastic team for helping us through our Summer of 2015!! 

The weather has been a bit of a pig hasn't it and I have felt so sorry for so many of the visitors with young children soaked through to their skins - but we've done our best to help dry them off and keep them entertained with Magic Mark our magician, Jacob Cracker the storyteller and our very own boxes of toys! 

The dogs have been in Salcombe in their hundreds and I think most of them have found their way into our pub. 99% of people love the fact we allow dogs into our great pub, and for the couple of you that have moaned that they'd rather not share their space with dogs - well we'd much rather you found another pub! People who like dogs or people who don't like dogs?? I know who I'd rather have in as guests!

The garden has not been as well used this year compared to last year if we're being honest, but (unless it's tropical rain) I've never found sitting out in the rain and getting soaked to the skin much fun have you?? But when it has been fine, then we've been as busy as we would expect. 

The almost best seller has been the Ploughmans - well you would wouldn't you!?!? 

Talking of food - we are bringing in our new 1st Autumn menu in September - we're really going to town on autumnal flavours and we are also introducing home-made cup cakes from Chef Tanya and Chef de Partie Katye. 

You may not read much from me for a while as SOH and I are having major renovations to our home starting from next week as well as a planned visit to London for the Great British Pub awards - in which we are finalists!! Yay! 

Enjoy whats left of the summer mon amies, 

Liz x

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Licensed Trade Charity - Support & Care

Volunteers & Team at LTC Care & Support Ascot

Ok – so this blog post is far and away from what I do now as a Publican/Licensee/Landlady of the Victoria Inn – call me what you will as long as it’s nice! Yet, it’s close to home! 

Puzzled?? Well, in my working life I’ve always stood up for social injustice, I’ve been an active Trade Unionist (especially concerned with Women’s Rights) and I spent a great 5 years leading an award winning and innovative Benefit take up campaign for the Local Authority I worked for. I hate to think that there is a huge part of society struggling to even life a life. 

Working in the Licensed Trade I don’t class myself as a great business woman – my Husband is that, whereas I’m the face of our business. I’m the one that walks the floor checking everyone is having a great time. The hirer and firer, social media ‘expert’ and anything ‘touchyfeel’, customers and team.   I love what I do – you as regular blog readers know that, but for a long time now I’ve wanted to do something more. 

Something I guess that would feed my soul away from our business. Well a few months ago an e mail dropped into our box from a Charity looking for volunteers, Husband duly pointed me to it and left me alone to mull over it.  The e mail was from a Charity called the LTC – Licensed Trade Charity – Support and Care.  Heard of it?? I bet most of you reading this haven’t – I certainly hadn’t.
Before you read on – just take a quick look at their website: there is masses of information available and there’s also a free helpline open 7 days a week from 8am to 8 pm - 0808 801 0550.

So, at this point I’ll cut a long story a bit short, but after a process (really not onerous – a form, a couple of references and an interview) I was accepted as a Volunteer. There are 2 types of volunteer – telephone and visitor – I chose to be a visitor.

Firstly. What does the LTC Support & Care do? Imagine this if you will:-
Your lovely jovial mine host runs a great little boozer, he/she’s always there with a smile and ready to serve you a great pint.  Always (almost!) always cheerful and full of bon-homie, always asks after the family, doesn’t moan about their life. They’re delighted to see you – you are their customer, you pay their wages. The place is full of happy people – you go home, they shut the doors of the pub. This carries on till the day they retire. What then???

Well of course, they’ve had a fantastic business all their life, they buy a big house, go on cruises and life the life of riley?? Don’t they??  Some may (please God let me be one of them!!) but many, many don’t.

Many will have had to pay high rents for the pubs they run, many will have only just squeezed through the recession, the no smoking ban, the high VAT rates, staff wages etc etc. Many will not have had the chance to have much put away in the way of savings. All their lives they’ve lived ‘Over the Shop’, living out of the pub – the kitchen, the utilities – all as one part of their overheads. Their social life has been that pub. It’s a tough hard life – it’s NOT all smiles and fun.

One day, that way of life comes to an end, either through retirement or ill health. What then?? If they don’t own a house then it’s off to the local Council to find them somewhere to live. If they’re lucky they might get offered something – maybe a flat on the 12th floor of a tower block? Maybe miles away from the people they classed as friends? Suddenly your sociable landlord or landlady is isolated and alone. The business that occupied their life for 18 hours a day, 52 weeks a year has gone. Along with the income that went with it. What do they live on – basic State Pension certainly, possibly a small private pension?

What about their health? Maybe they already have health issues – perhaps they drank a little too much, smoked more than they should have? Maybe they did none of that and still are in ill health purely through old age? 

That fridge needs replacing, they can’t pay the Council Tax, those utility bills are mounting up, and they don’t eat as well as they should because they don’t have the money for the food they should eat. They don’t run a car – they can’t afford it. They don’t see the family so much now they don’t have a handy pub for them to visit? They certainly can’t afford a week in Blackpool let alone a cruise.
Does that sound far-fetched………??? I can assure you it’s not! 

BUT – the LTC Support & Care is not just about retired people! What about the young person who’s worked in his local pub for 5 years or more?? He’s got real financial worries – so bad they’re affecting his health. The LTC Support and Care may be able to help him.   What about the woman that worked as a receptionist at the local Brewery for many years, but ill health caused her to have to leave? Now she is socially isolated, in debt, has a child that wants to go on an educational school trip she can’t afford or desperately needs a laptop to help with their studies? The LTC Support and Care may be able to help. 

All of the above is a reality I learnt during my training at the LTC headquarters in Ascot. Know what? It shocked (and scared!) me to my core. This my blog reading friends is where the LTC comes into people’s lives and where YOU could too if you’d like to think about it. 

The LTC offers as I said 2 services – a Befriender Telephone volunteer – who after training does just what it says! They phone people up regularly and chat to them.  You could potentially be the only person that they ever speak to.  YOU could do that! You just need a telephone, empathy and the ability to speak to another human being. You don’t meet them, they could live the other end of the country but there is a waiting list of people and needing a Befriender. 

Secondly, you could do what I’ve chosen to do – be a visitor volunteer. Again, it’s doing pretty much what it says on the tin.  I’ll get a referral from Support & Care saying that Mr K or Mrs H has requested help from the Charity as they are in real financial hardship and need help. It’s my job to go through the forms with them, assess their needs outside of that original request i.e, is there something else we could help with, point then in the direction of?? Submit a written report to Support & Care. Basically, that’s it in a nutshell. Honestly, it’s not rocket science and it’s not hard. You get training to do this and you get a mentor for your first few visits. There is always someone at Support & Care ready to answer your queries. 

But it’s not just Licensees that the Charity helps – it’s ANYONE who has had a continuous 5 year employment with the drinks business. Bar staff, off license workers, brewery workers, admin workers – they help a LOT of people! Not only do they help financially, they have experts who can check you’re getting all the benefits you’re entitled to, they also have great schools, they can help with Housing issues, in fact the LTC Care & Support can help with almost anything if you meet the criteria and there is a need.

How much of my life will this take up? Somewhere around 8 – 10 hours a month outside of my busy life – that’s all. If I can take the time to do it – couldn’t you??