BEER lovers are encouraging residents to visit their nearest pub in a bid to tackle loneliness.

The fact that many people opt to drink at home is leading to the closure of pubs in and around the country, it has been revealed.

Tendring’s Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) statistics have revealed seven pubs closed in the district in the past year, and 18 in the past five years.

The last CAMRA national statistics showed 14 pubs were closing per week in January 2019.

Tendring CAMRA data specialists said although this would appear to show Tendring pub closures are accelerating whilst nationally it is going the other way, there is a lag in the national statistics and they feel the next national figure will be higher again – showing that conditions have been particularly tough over the past year.

After being packed out over the Christmas period many pubs go quiet in January and February.

In recent years this has been amplified by the increasing trend of Dry January, where people give up booze for the month.

Richard Oxborrow, a committee member at Tendring CAMRA, said: “It probably won’t surprise you to learn most CAMRA members do not get involved with Dry January and many go positively out of their way to visit pubs in the first two months of the year.

“But this isn’t a negative reaction it is a positive one.

“First off you don’t need to drink alcohol to enjoy a visit to the pub and if you wrap up walk there you are doubling up on the health benefits.

“Far from being a dangerous place we should definitely be celebrating the healthy public house – good food, good beer and a nice chat, and if you want to abstain from alcohol, they will serve you a range of soft drinks or a nice coffee or tea.

Mr Oxborrow said loads of micro-breweries are also struggling when pubs close down, and the pubs are suffering because people decide to buy their drinks from supermarkets and drink them at home in isolation.

He also added drinking at home has an impact on both mental and physical health because people are sitting at home in isolation, not doing any exercise.

The National CAMRA has launched a campaign to promote the important role pubs play in tackling loneliness and social isolation, such as offering free dinners for the elderly or hosting chatty table schemes.

The campaign aims to shine a light on how important pubs are to local communities, while breaking down the taboos around mental health.

Robin Hewings, director of campaigns, policy and research at the Campaign to End Loneliness, said: “There are nine million lonely people in the UK, and about four million of those are older people.

“They lack the companionship, friendship and support we all need.

“In our own polling, we found pubs are the place where people feel most comfortable starting conversations in.

“Pubs are a great space for people to connect. Even just a small chat can make a big difference to someone who feels lonely.”Despite losses over the years Tendring has retained a fantastic array of public houses – many of them in listed buildings steeped in history.

So whether you are going gin free this January or not, Tendring CAMRA will be encouraging residents to join them down the pub all year round for a drink and a chat.