Social clubs are a vital part of communities across Liverpool, as a place where people celebrate some of the most important moments in life.

But like the rest of the hospitality industry, they have been hit hard by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

A third national lockdown has forced the region's social clubs to close once again and weather the uncertainty of the months ahead.

Kirkby Sports Bar on Rusland Road is much more than a social club in the traditional sense of the word.

It's a Kirkby institution that dates back to the 1960s, but since owner James Williams, 30, took it over he's worked hard to bring it back into the 21st century.

From replacing the outdated decor with modern furnishings and getting rid of the annual membership fee, the club has undergone an extensive renovation.

However, this is far from the biggest challenge James has faced since he has taken over, with the club spending much of the past year closed due to the pandemic.

We spoke to James to find out what it's like to run a social club in the current climate and what the future holds for local clubs like his.

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James told the ECHO: "There's around 40,000 people who live in Kirkby and I'd say everyone knows what we've done and are doing with the place.

"It's definitely a big part of the community."

When the first lockdown started James said: "We had a lot of work to do in the pub so it was a good excuse to carry on with that.

"Once the work was done then obviously we're still paying bills with no money coming in apart from grants, but they didn't really cover the bills.

"When we were allowed to reopen in July a lot of people thought 'the pubs are back open they're sound', but we rely on parties and functions which weren't allowed, so for us it was still a struggle."

After being back open from July until October the club decided to stay closed after the second lockdown in December, due to the rules which still prevented events from taking place.

James Williams from Kirkby Sports and Social Club.(Pic Andrew Teebay).

As well as operating as a pub in normal times, Kirkby Sports Bar would host dance classes, keep fit sessions and community boxing shows in their function room.

They were also a go-to venue for weddings and family parties - but this has all been put on hold.

James said: "Even if the government decides pubs can reopen in March it doesn't fill me with much confidence. I still think they'll be rules around social distancing, how many people can come in the pub and how many people can go to weddings or other functions.

"I don't know when we're going to be able to operate like normal. I'm seeing it as a time to enjoy my time off.

"As soon as we get open and we can operate, we want to put boxing shows on again and dance classes. We still have plans to put comedians back on I just don't know when."

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He added: "In the future I'm worried about if people get used to not going out all the time. We used to get people coming in everyday.

"I worry that people may get used to not coming in or are saving money and think they're better off buying a couple of cans from the off licence or supermarket and having a drink at home.

"You've just got to keep your head down, keep going and stay positive. There's people worse off than us.

"We're not going to close - there will be other businesses that will."