These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. The Rebels play in the Southern Premier - just seven leagues below the Premier League. I’ve been supporting Slough since the beginning of time despite now living in Brighton. After nearly 14 nomadic years we finally have a brand spanking new home in Slough.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

CAN SLOUGH TOWN CURE LONELINESS ?

Printed in the Southern League Premier Division game v Kings Langley on Tuesday 30th January 2018 We drew 1-1 in front of 450

The other Friday afternoon I spent an hour after work helping out at the seniors lunch club that happens every week at The Bevy, Brighton's only community owned pub. I hopped on the bus to help drop people home in our wheelchair friendly minibus and if i'm honest, it was pretty heart-breaking. I wheeled one guy into his flat in sheltered housing and asked how he managed. He told me his mate across the way used to help him but he had just died. As I made sure people's doors were shut I wondered just how many would not see another soul till the following Friday and tipped my hat to the volunteers that run the club.
I know that run properly pubs can play a pivotal role in supporting their local community and running a seniors lunch club isn't just good for the community but also good for business, as these people make friends and become regulars. Having a pub on your doorstep, having someone who knows your name when you walk in, makes a massive difference to the quality of peoples lives.
This fits in nicely with the appointment of the first ever Minister for Loneliness after a report published last year by the Jo Cox Commission, revealed that loneliness was as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
So the government has a ready made answer when it comes to tackling loneliness. Unfortunately with so many pubs closing every week it needs to strengthen planning laws to protect them and other community spaces from property vultures while exempting those that help their communities with tax breaks. That's why it angers me when pubs on estates are shut because they are worth more financially as housing when run properly they can be the beating heart of the community.
So what role can football clubs can play? Getting upset while watching 22 grown kick a ball around seems a bit daft but we all know at our level at least its a lot more than just that. Look at the outpouring of grief that greeted the news of the death of our physio SuperKev. Without Slough Town just how many of us would have had the honour of knowing Kev?
I've been really impressed how our club has put itself so quickly back into the heart of the community, one of the most ethnically diverse in the whole country.
But it’s ironic that the government appoints a minister for loneliness when its very own policies are doing so much to exacerbate the problem. The never ending squeeze on public finance has meant shutting old peoples clubs, day centres for people with disabilities, libraries, youth and community centres. All an apparent drain on resources, and bugger the human cost. Pubs are disappearing at an alarming rate and small charities are struggling to survive while private companies make cash out of anything that moves – old people, education, water, railways, buses and the air we breathe if they could find a way. But its a sick society that only ever looks at the cost, because it cannot consider the genuine worth of things.
Our society is at a crossroads. Governments have lost the ability to act in the best interests of most of us while large corporations can't deliver what we need (they are happy to when they make a profit, but want to be bailed out by taxpayers when they fail) We can moan till we are blue in the face that someone needs to do something about it but the reality is it's up to us too fight for what makes life worth living. Its only when we get involved in our communities that things will change. That could be helping save your local pub or community centre or offering to help behind the bar or on the turnstiles at our football club.
People want to feel like they belong and be part of something. I know that pubs can play a massive part and I know that football clubs like Slough Town can too.
The Bevy Pub, once closed by the police for anti social behaviour, has proved that run for the benefit of the community it can be more than just a pub. With a loneliness epidemic we need places like the Bevy and football clubs like Slough Town more than ever.

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