“Cheers M’ Dears” – toasting friendship at Banbury’s newest ‘pub’

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A group of regulars who use Oxfordshire County Council’s community support service (CSS) in Neithrop, Banbury are raising a glass to a new pub room which they designed together, aptly named Cheers M’ Dears.

The reimagined space is down to the creativity of the people who use the service, as well as kind donations from the local community and funding from the Friends of Redlands charity.Walla & Irene

The room offers a genuine pub environment including a working bar, pool table and juke box and will be used as a social space for members of the support service as well as being available to hire by community groups in the area.

Jennifer Farrell, Manager of Banbury CSS, said: “We’re always looking for innovative ways to deliver social care, putting the people we support at the heart of what we do.

“Our members have told us that they can sometimes feel uncomfortable in a pub environment and that they really miss the sociable atmosphere that comes with it. At Cheers M’ Dears, we’ve created a safe and inclusive space where everyone can relax and have fun.”

As well as enjoying the social setting, people who use Banbury CSS are training to work behind the bar, serving customers and making mocktails. It is hoped that this could lead to opportunities to work in hospitality in the future.Zoe & Gary K

Jennifer added: “We support a range of different people, including those with learning disabilities, mental health concerns and people living with dementia. Our pub room will give them the chance to gain experience in the service industry without being judged, potentially paving a way for them to gain meaningful employment in the future.”

The regulars have already had an afternoon’s tasting session, making sure the non-alcohol drinks and snacks are of the highest quality. While alcohol will not be available during day when the support service is being used, the hub does hold a licence for alcohol to be consumed, so anyone looking to hire out the venue will have access to a traditional pub experience. 

All profits from the bar will go back to the Friends of Redlands charity, which was set up more than thirty years ago to support Banbury CSS. The registered charity already holds a range of events to bring funds into the centre, all benefiting the people who use the community support service.

Councillor Tim Bearder, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: “We are delivering social care in new and innovative ways, helping people to live well and independently within their communities for as long as possible. It’s something we call the Oxfordshire Way.

“This new pub room at Banbury CSS is the perfect example of thinking outside the box, working in partnership with the local community and the people we support, to help people live happy, sociable lives. I look forward to my first mocktail at Cheers M’ Dears!”

Anyone wishing to hire out the pub room can email jennifer.farrell@oxfordshire.gov.uk for further details.

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