STEAM Hubs & Pubs CIC

Who are they?

STEAM Hubs & Pubs CIC, are a social enterprise that runs the The Old Abbey Taphouse in Hulme, a community focused STEAM hub-in-a-pub. Before the pandemic they were a financially viable grassroots music venue & community space.

They have a large outdoor space, a large kitchen, a radio station, music practice room and recording studio, a creative studio and a meeting room. 

What do they do and why?

They support communities to use their voice and assets, and to realise a collective vision of what their neighbourhood can be and achieve through grassroots-led and inclusive and participatory approaches. Their work is based on the principles of STEAM, combining science and technology with art and creativity to create positive futures for all. They connect businesses institutions to local groups through innovative community engagement practices.  They help academics to reach local audiences, to enhance the impact of research outcomes and to provide opportunity for residents to learn about research through hands-on events.

Ultimately the team nurture collaborative communities who put the heart and soul back into areas and assets which have been forgotten, over-ruled by decision makers and neglected.

What funding did they receive and how has it helped?

STEAM received £50,000 of funding from GMCVO. In difficult circumstances, the funding enabled them to build the capacity of our staff team, grow income generation streams and respond to challenges caused by ‘lockdown’, whilst meeting the needs of the community by scaling up their food delivery service. It also allowed the team to realise the financial potential of the multiple spaces within the pub, which were renovated using the funding, and to economically support the implementation of their social objectives.

What impact has or will the funding have?

Firstly, STEAM have been able to create three new jobs:

  • The Community, Catering, and Events Coordinator has enabled the organisation to develop multiple income streams including catering, events and membership. This role has also created capacity to join the kickstart scheme which has brought in new young staff from the local community who were previously unemployed. The team's community partnership, Meals-on-Wheels (TV Dinners) service which responds to the needs of vulnerable people has been strengthened. This has created links with residents in local communities, who now value and use the pub as their own place, in a way that didn’t happen previously.

  • The Music and Entertainment Coordinator has increased the consistency of music, arts and performance events, increased footfall into the venue and boosted local talent by establishing the brand more widely as an accessible live local music venue.

  • The part-time Marketing role has created much needed marketing capacity, which the organisation has been lacking for some time to reach out, engage multiple audiences and grow our reach and income generation potential more widely.

STEAM have also been able to fund a financial associate  which has improved their financial reporting, payroll management and bookkeeping capacity.

Finally, investment in a pizza oven has significantly increased the quality of food and doubled the number of pizzas they can make at a time which has increased capacity and service.

The organisation still have a litte of the funding left and are in discussion about taking on an apprentice through the apprenticeship match fund and plan to invest in some bid writing support. 

How has the pandemic impacted the organisation and their community/beneficiaries and how did they respond?

In some ways, due to the team's resourcefulness, Covid and the pandemic has enabled them to become the community pub that they always strived to be.

For the communities that STEAM serve, the pandemic was devastating. All local community spaces were closed to protect the health of their workers and volunteers. There was a clear need for services to support people who were isolating, and people who needed community support. Keeping the space open
as a community centre - rather than as a pub - was the first task and they became the hub from which food donations were distributed and a veg box delivery service was based. These services continued during the pandemic, even during the lockdowns when the pub was officially closed.

The music community who STEAM serve also were significantly affected by the pandemic, as they could no longer practice or play music in public / private spaces. The team experimented with innovative ways to meet their needs, including setting up a digital radio station and running private live-stream sessions for bands serving local people takeout alcohol. At a time when there was no live music, people could still enjoy live music - albeit via a digital stream to comply with Covid guidelines.

Thanks to the GMCVO loan, STEAM have been able to expand and we returned to pre-pandemic turnover before the second lockdown, and following the third lockdown. 

"The GMCVO investment enabled us to grow as a business and to reach out to the communities that we serve, helping them through the Covid pandemic. The social impact that we had undoubtedly increased as a result of the investment, meaning that we had the capacity to do more, at a point when the larger institutions and charities had withdrawn their services, for the safety of their workers." Craig Thomas, Director

As at January 2022, The Old Abbey Tap House is proud to be open for business. 

Find out more about the meals-on-wheels project TV dinners, the radio station STEAM MCR and of course, the Old Abbey Taphouse, with its community and academic events.



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