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Digital tools for easy Big Lunch planning

March 27, 2015
Author: Trudi Holden

We always say that a Big Lunch doesn’t have to involve lots of time or money, if everyone mucks in to help and brings something along; whether that’s a dish to share or a chair to sit on! But even the most experienced Big Lunchers need a helping hand, to help make the day less work and more play! So as thousands of you get knee deep in Big Lunch planning for this June, our friends at Community How To have shared a few of their favourite digital tools to make organising your event even easier:

free resources for the big lunch


1. Mindjet

To get started you’ll need to brainstorm ideas for your Big Lunch – do you want it to be themed? What food do you want people to bring? Where will you hold it?

Mindjet is a brilliant digital tool which allows you to generate ideas, organise information, and manage projects and tasks. It’s great for capturing your communities’ best ideas and tracking your progress on one easy-to-use interface.


2. VolunteerSpot

Throw away those sign-up sheets because VolunteerSpot will make your life much, much easier.

Organising a Big Lunch on your own isn’t much fun, and many hands always make for light work. This tool is perfect for inviting people in your local community to get involved and keeping them up to date on progress.

VolunteerSpot lets you plan events in an online calendar and invite volunteers to sign up from their computer or smartphone – it even comes with automatic reminders that help volunteers to turn up on the right day at the right time!


3. Social Media

Once your Big Lunch is all organised, you’ll need to make sure everyone knows it’s happening.

The best way to publicise your event is by putting it online. Whether you’re a Facebook fan or a tweeter on Twitter, promoting your event through social media is very easy to do and it works in real time, so when you post about your event it’ll show up immediately for the whole world to see.

On Facebook you can create an event page and invite people (and ask them to invite their friends…) to make sure as many people know about it as possible. You can also use hashtags to label your event and gain publicity – though this one is mostly suited to Twitter!

The Big Lunch free pack

4. Big Lunch Resources

And last but certainly not least, there are lots of free Resources available on The Big Lunch website! From personalisable posters and invitations, to risk assessment guidance and ideas for cutting waste; there’s everything you need to make Lunching as simply and fun as possible.

Check out the Ideas and Downloadable Resources sections at to help inspire your Big Lunch plans.


More Resources available:

Created by The Tinder Foundation in 2012, Community How To enables community organisations to find digital tools to help them do more of what they do best, and help them share their ideas and experience with others. Anyone can register for free on the site to add their favourite tools, case studies and views, leave comments, join discussions with peers and gain access to even more great free resources.

There are so many great digital tools that can help you organise your Big Lunch – have a look at to see which ones can make your planning easier.






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Community, Friends, How to, Ideas, Planning, Top tips
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“My Brilliant Moment”

March 24, 2015
Author: Gwion Thorpe

I recently recorded a short film for the Community Channel as part of their “My Brilliant Moment” series, which is part of the wider and wonderful Do Something Brilliant campaign.  Watch me explain a little bit more about why I do what I do and, most importantly, what The Big Lunch means to me and why everyone should get involved.



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Spreading the word, Video, Wales, Wales Case Study
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Do you live in Wales’ friendliest street?

March 23, 2015
Author: Gwion Thorpe

To mark the launch of The Big Lunch in Wales this year we have teamed up with Media Wales to find the the friendliest streets in the South Wales Valleys - the place that boasts the happiest postcode, the most helpful neighbours and the most cheerful community!


We’re searching for a street that can show the country what being a good neighbour is all about.  We’re hoping that finding the friendliest street in each area will remind us just how important it is to have good neighbours and how much easier life is when you know and get along with the people who live around you.


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News, Spreading the word, Stories, Wales, Wales Case Study
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‘Crime cannot flourish in a community that cares’

March 20, 2015
Author: Gwion Thorpe

As you know, The Big Lunch has a very simple and unchanging aim – to encourage people to get together with their neighbours on one day a year for a few hours of community, friendship and fun.  That “fun” bit is hugely important and is why millions of you take part year after year, but there is also a more serious and long-term intention to The Big Lunch, which, in a nutshell, is about helping to build stronger, safer communities.

That’s why I’m really pleased that Police forces across Wales are supporting The Big Lunch this year, alongside our friends at Neighbourhood & Home Watch, to help and encourage more people to hold Big Lunches in their area and to start making those all-important connections.  I was at the Dyfed Powys Police HQ yesterday where I saw the words “crime cannot flourish in a community that cares”.  It might sound a bit cheesy but it’s true!  85% of Big Lunchers in 2014 said they felt safer in their neighbourhoods after getting to know their neighbours better at a Big Lunch.  Last year, we also shared some great stories about how The Big Lunch and Neighbourhood Watch go hand in hand.



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Community, News, Wales
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Meet Marcus, Wales’ youngest ever Big Luncher

March 17, 2015
Author: Gwion Thorpe

Towards the end of The Big Lunch day last June I turned in to a residential street in East Cardiff in the hope of catching the tail end of their very first Big Lunch.  I was quickly greeted by a small group of children walking arm in arm down the middle of the street.  When I asked if they could point me in the direction of the main organiser, the tallest of the group stepped forward and said “Yes that’s me. I’m Marcus. Come and meet the rest of my street!”  It turns out I’d just met one of our youngest ever Big Lunchers – 12 year old Marcus Aitken.



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Community, Stories, Wales, Wales Case Study
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Top street party planning tips from a Big Luncher

March 16, 2015
Author: Emma

Lara helped co-ordinate Willowbrae’s Big Lunch in Edinburgh in 2014. They invited both immediate neighbours and residents on the surrounding streets along and had over a hundred people joining their street party on the day. Whether you’re planning an event of a smaller, larger or similar size, here are ten top tips to help you get planning!


1. Keep everyone informed. We put flyers through doors to ensure our neighbours knew what was going on and how to get involved. We invited feedback, ideas and asked everyone along to our planning meetings. I submitted a ‘Notice of Proposal to Hold a Public Event’ to the local Council as I wanted to be prepared in case everyone was in favour of hosting a street party, which they were!

2. Put up posters on street corners. I was concerned that some of the A5 sized flyers would get lost amongst junk mail, so we also put some A3 posters up at strategic points outside. Corner fences at the end of streets seemed like good visible places with maximum footfall. 

3. Keep it simple! Initially we had grand plans to coordinate the catering, but in the end we decided it was just so much easier to do a ‘pot luck’ and simply asked everyone to bring food to share and drinks for themselves – the results were fantastic!

4. Ask people to bring their own plates, cutlery and cups to drink from. This hugely reduces waste, and it meant that the organisers didn’t need to provide them or clear them-up afterwards.

 5. Set-up a recycling station. Although we asked everyone to take their own waste home, we also had boxes for recycling and a lead volunteer to ensure that these were all gathered-up and recycled at the end of the day.

 6. Decorate the street with bunting. This just makes it look so much more festive, and it gives it a sense of occasion. We cut-up over-sized triangles from old cotton sheets and had an open afternoon where you could pop round to our resident artist Sam’s house and decorate them. Added bonus is that the bunting can be used again next year!

7. Assign a couple of First Aiders. Thankfully the First Aiders weren’t needed – not even for a plaster! However it was nice knowing we had a first aid box and a couple of people willing to fulfil this role on the day.

 8. Assign a couple of Stewards. These were volunteers who’d agreed that they would do some crowd control if needed, thankfully that wasn’t necessary, but it was useful to have a couple of people saying ‘we’ll use this end of the street for food and the other end for free play and activities’.

9. Scatter play things along the street! We had bats, balls, hoola hoops, skipping ropes, and boxes of coloured chalk strewn across one end of the street. The most popular activity was getting the adults to queue-up at the face painting station to have their faces painted by 4-6 year olds!

10. Give people name badges. We used sticky labels and marker pens. When you meet that many people over a short space of time, name badges or labels do help!

We’re on Facebook:

Decorations, Games, How to, Planning, Scotland Case Study
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A sandwich made for two…

March 14, 2015
Author: Emily Watts

Here at Big Lunch Scotland we recently used the Glasgow Climbing Centre as the venue for a photoshoot to illustrate our goal of ‘getting numbers climbing to 10% of the population’.

BIG LUNCH-LWWhile we were there, chef Liam McAlpine from the in-house café, The Balcony, came up with this enormous meaty sandwich in our honour.



It’s called, oddly enough, ‘The Big Lunch’. They liked it so much that it now appears on the menu there and will until the Big Lunch in June. If you’re not in Glasgow and would like to try it for yourself, Liam gives us a wee sneak peek into the world of professional sandwich making. We think he’s a bit of a wizard.


BIG LUNCH-LW “Without a doubt The Big Lunch sandwich is a flavour bomb in the sandwich world. It’s made on a panini – this is definitely one to have warm.

“We used a few slices of good smoked ham, peppered pastrami, an onion marmalade (we used our own onion, bacon and thyme offering), tomato, rocket, sun bushed chilli mayo and the daddy of all – the famous Stornoway black pudding.

“This bad-boy will either set you up for the day or send you straight for an afternoon nap. Designed to be shared, but many have conquered the beast by themselves. It’s actually so big we do not dare cut it in half…it’s on you…hero time baby.”

What more can we say? And in true Big Lunch tradition, it’s so big, the only thing to reasonably do with it is grab a friend and share it together.

BIG LUNCH sharing Sandwich (more…)

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How to, Ideas, Recipes, Scotland, Sharing

Royal Recognition for Big Lunchers!

March 9, 2015
Author: Emma

Much excitement for The Big Lunch this week! We are delighted that our Patron, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, is helping us to officially launch The Big Lunch in 2015. And we are very, very excited to be taking some Big Lunchers to a lunchtime reception in Clarence House, where HRH will recognise the brilliant things happening in their neighbourhoods – including their annual Big Lunch!

These Big Lunchers represent the wider Big Lunch community – that’s all of you who have taken part over the past six years. We have aimed to select a varied group of Big Lunchers to represent communities from all four nations and showcase the variety of different Big Lunch stories we hear, year upon year.


Representing younger Big Lunchers out there we have Marcus from Cardiff, a young man who at 12 years old (one of the youngest ever Big Lunchers!) took the initiative and got his neighbours together for a street party in 2014 – we know that takes some guts no matter what age you are!

Our longstanding Big Lunchers are represented by Paul from Brooklands in Manchester. When his estate became home to 200 more people due to new build developments, Paul organised their first street party in an effort to welcome his new neighbours to the community. It’s since become an annual event helping to turn a new estate where no one knew each other into a vibrant and caring community.

Onkar from Northolt wanted to get more involved in his local community and help support his local allotment – deciding to hold a Big Lunch on the allotment helped him to both things and he is now setting up grow your own classes for his neighbours!


Scottish Big Lunchers are represented by Rachael and Bronwyn on behalf of Annan Activity and Resource Centre in Dumfries. They have welcomed their community into the centre which provides services to adults with learning disabilities over the past few years, helping to build stronger local relationships.

Like many other Big Lunchers, Terry and her neighbour Ginette from Westward Ho! have used their Big Lunches to fundraise for charity, providing support to North Devon Foodbank. In 2014, following disastrous floods in the area, their Big Lunch also helped boost much needed community spirit.

Jo from Millisle, near Belfast, represents Northern Ireland Big Lunchers. Since her first Big Lunch in 2013, Jo has continued to promote community interactions including lots of innovative things to support local young people including a new youth project.

Rosaline didn’t know anyone in her neighbourhood when she moved to London, so she decided to bring people together through a Big Lunch in 2012. Since then Rosaline’s community has continued to thrive and build on mutual trust and respect.

Rosaline_Ducasse_Big Lunch 2013

And last but not least, Andrea, Community Ambassador for Halifax in Oldham got involved in The Big Lunch in 2013 in the hope of bringing people in her town closer together. Andrea is passionate about Oldham and the people who live there, and if there is a good cause or fundraising activity in the local area, she’s often at the heart of it.

These stories are just pieces in the larger Big Lunch patchwork quilt that spans the whole UK – individually impressive, but taken together something rather special and important. You all help to build foundations for stronger communities. We don’t take credit for what you do in your neighbourhoods (through The Big Lunch and beyond), but nonetheless, we are proud of you all!

- The Big Lunch Team

Case Study, Events, News, Spreading the word
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Food For Thought

March 9, 2015
Author: Grainne McCloskey

The Big Lunch will present a session tonight as part of this inspiring and fun event for the Causeway Coast and Glens District Council Area.

Monday 9th March 2015 from 6.45pm to 9.30 pm in Ballymoney Town Hall Auditorium

Numbers are limited  so please RSVP or by calling 028 27660257.

Bringing people together through food

TCV help grow with grange

Whether you are an individual interested in growing, cooking or eating or a member of a group or a young person keen to get involved locally
we are all connected to food in some way or other. Food brings us together, whether it is sharing a meal with your neighbour or donating a tin of beans to your local food bank.
This event is rooted in community  it will inspire, encourage and support you to take part in food activities whether you are interested in growing on a community allotment, helping out at a local community lunch club, or learning about home cooking on a budget there is something to inspire and encourage everyone to take part.
Come and tell us what you know and hear what others have to say. We would be delighted if you brought along a copy of your favourite recipe that you and your neighbours like for lots of reasons, whether they are quick, easy and tasty and are perfect for people with busy lifestyles, or use up leftovers and common items in your fridge to help you save money or maybe a culinary treats for those special occasions!

Light refreshments and tasty delights will be provided
We look forward to meeting you!

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Share more than lunch

March 4, 2015
Author: Fay

We’ve teamed up with Streetbank – the world’s biggest neighbourhood sharing website – to encourage Big Lunchers to share more than lunch this summer.

The site has been rated by The Times as “one of the 50 websites you can’t live without” and it’s easy to see why. It makes it really easy to share your things and skills with neighbours, saving you money, building community and being resourceful in the process.

So we’re inviting you to get online today and offer one thing that you can either lend or give away to a neighbour or to list something that you’d be happy to lend someone a hand with.

I'm sharing DVD's

Anything from the ladder or drill that lies unused most of the year and those old books, children’s clothes or toys adding to the clutter at home to a little bit of help – with things like home chores, DIY and gardening.

A personal favourite of mine is this offer, with someone simply lending their ear to anyone that needs it:

“Friendly Optimist That Has YOLO Approach To Life-If You Need A Chat Or Inspiration!”

Many of us live far from friends and family so having neighbours that you can call on for help, and being able to find and share things locally for free, is so valuable.

Streetbank is one simple way to do just that and it could be really handy for finding the bunting, tables, chairs, plates, cutlery…you name it.. for your Big Lunch this summer.

Mandeep from Hounslow says,
“I heard about Streetbank through a friend, who gave away lots of furniture and books when she was moving house.
I’ve since borrowed a cot and a ladder, and been given a children’s bike for my son! People are generous and I’ve enjoyed meeting more neighbours as a result of using the site.”

Sign up today and if you need a little help to get things going in your area, contact Kate and she’ll do her best to help you.

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Friends, Sharing, Spreading the word
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