PUBS are being urged offer post office services and branch out into other areas in a new project.

Pub is The Hub is launching in East Sussex to encourage landlords to offer a shop, library, internet café or a cash point alongside food, drink and accommodation. Other possibilities include providing school dinners, lunch clubs for elderly people, IT training and meeting rooms.

The not-for-profit organisation is working with Wealden District Council and East Sussex County Council and is inviting people to learn more at an open day on Tuesday, April 19.

The organisation's chief executive John Longden and his team will be on hand to offer advice and support and discuss possible funding for pub owners who are considering the idea.

Founded in 2001 by the Prince of Wales, the organisation has worked with pubs across the country, including in Devon, Dorset, Cornwall, North Yorkshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Lincolnshire.

It was approached by the local authorities to work in East Sussex after its work in other areas was noticed.

It is backed by the Big Lottery Fund which has worked with Pub is The Hub since 2011.

Mr Longden said the project aims to tackle loneliness, inaccessibility and social deprivation and carried out research to find where services were most needed.

He said: "Although East Sussex is a relatively affluent county there were still areas where people are lonely or cannot access services in rural areas. We are hoping rural pubs might be able to provide additional services in those areas of most need.

"We are fortunate that the Big Lottery has provided funding for us to do the initial research, launch the programme and provide the on-the-ground support to licensees.

"In addition, our own community services fund will help to support the cost of any projects in pubs with grants of up to £4,000.

"In undertaking schemes of this type we hope to gain the confidence of the local authorities to support us in the long term."

Any licensees and pub owners interested in offering more services - even those who had never considered it before - are welcome to attend and find out more.

Call 01423 546165 to reserve a place for the meeting on Tuesday, April 19, from 11am to 1pm at The Reid Hall, Boreham Street, Boreham, near Herstmonceux.

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