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Pubs good for the soul: Official

Digital world 'simply no substitute' for mates and booze

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has perhaps merely confirmed what all right-minded people already know: that those who have a local boozer in which to quaff ale and chew the fat with mates are "significantly happier" than wretched souls who do not.

CAMRA asked Oxford Uni's Professor Robin Dunbar to look into the link between pub-based social interaction and personal wellbeing. He concluded that "having a strong social network significantly improves both your happiness and your overall health".

Pubs play an "integral role" in maintaining such social networks through vital face-to-face interaction, something increasingly threatened by the online world.

Dunbar elaborated: "Friendship and community are probably the two most important factors influencing our health and wellbeing. Making and maintaining friendships, however, is something that has to be done face-to-face: the digital world is simply no substitute.

"Given the increasing tendency for our social life to be online rather than face-to-face, having relaxed accessible venues where people can meet old friends and make new ones becomes ever more necessary."

CAMRA chief exec Tim Page admitted the findings wouldn't come as much of a surprise to his members, but stressed that pubs' contribution to the entire nation's wellbeing "cannot be overstated".

He said: "For that reason, we all need to do what we can to ensure that everyone has a 'local' near to where they live or work."

CAMRA says that boozers "are increasingly under threat of demolition or being converted to another use by large developers with 29 pubs closing every week". ®

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