The Eden Project
The Big Lunch - an Eden Project

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  • Asda
  • Halifax
  • Streetclub


Give Away Advent

November 26, 2014
Author: Fay

Kate Groves, Marketing Director of Streetbank, describes why she created an unusual challenge: to give one of her possessions to a neighbour every day through Advent.

“In September, I went to a film screening of My Stuff, a film about Petri Luukkainen, a 26-year old man from Finland that decides to put all of his stuff in storage and only take one item back per day, for a year. 

Going through an existential crisis at the point of making this decision, Luukkainen hoped that he might be able to rebuild his life through this human experiment.

He starts naked in Helsinki.  He gradually equips himself and his flat over the year and takes us on the journey with him by documenting the whole thing on camera.

It’s a story about consumerism and about our relationship with stuff – a topic close to my heart as I co-run a website called Streetbank – that helps people share stuff with neighbours.  Anything from ladders, drills and lawnmowers that aren’t needed on a daily basis – to giving things like old furniture, books and children’s toys away.

After the film

We took part in a Q&A with Luukkainen, which started with him describing how so many people tell him about ‘that box of stuff they have in the attic that they never look at’… never mind use.

I have one of those boxes.  And I went away thinking about just how much stuff we all have to give.

I’ve spent the past 11 years moving all of my possessions from flat to flat.  Living somewhere on a temporary basis at the moment, I’ve actually put the majority of my personal belongings in a storage unit.

kate in santa hat

My challenge (more…)

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Community, Friends, Ideas, Sharing
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Rural community project gets a boost from Big Lunch Extras

November 25, 2014
Author: Hannah

Ann Osborn runs a unique service in Suffolk, helping join people up in rural spots– using tea and coffee! In a nutshell, her Rural Coffee Caravan Information Project visits villages in the county, equipped with coffee, tea and homemade cakes – as well as all sorts of information about organisations and services that local folk should know about.

Last May, Ann decided to get on board our sister project’s free support programme, Big Lunch Extras, to help take her project to the next level. She joined one of the weekend camps at the Eden Project, Cornwall, where she met other community-minded people around the UK, and took away with her a raft of new ideas for her work. She’s also joined their regional events nearer home.

Ann is one of more than 500 motivated individuals who have taken advantage of the funded places on Big Lunch Extras, run by the Eden Project. Visit the Big Lunch Extras website to find out if you could benefit. It makes a great next step for those who’ve already held a Big Lunch!

In the meantime, here’s a heart-warming video of Ann’s work in Suffolk. She says: ‘For us, Big Lunch Extras is inspiration, it’s motivation, it’s information… massive networking.’

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Big Lunch Extras, Community, Spreading the word
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How to… Make your own Christmas Crackers

November 24, 2014
Author: Emily Watts

Have you ever been disappointed by the contents of the crackers you have at the dinner table over the Christmas period? Of course you have! Who needs another tiny plastic jumping frog, or a miniature set of bowling pins?

We have the antidote! And it’s dead easy… Make your own.


It’s a great simple activity to do with children and means you can pick out little gifts that won’t end up left on the table with the final sprout.

You will need:

  • Toilet rolls (two per cracker)
  • Wrapping Paper
  • Cracker snaps (you can buy these from big craft and art shops)
  • Small gifts
  • Tissue paper
  • A list of jokes/ riddles/ or mottos
  • Scissors
  • Double sided sticky tape
  • Curling ribbon (that thin shiny stuff you get in all the shops right now)


How to:

  • First, take two of the toilet rolls, making sure they’re the same width. Cut one of the loo rolls in half. You now have the body and ‘ends’ of your cracker.
  • Take your paper. You need a piece wide enough to wrap round your toilet rolls with an overlap. To get the right length, you need to mark out the lengths of your ‘ends’ and ‘body’  plus two ‘widths’.


  • Draw two lines down your paper, to mark where your ‘end’ finishes and your ’body’ begins. You’ll end up with four lines.
  • You need to make diamond shapes on this line, but don’t let them touch – you want a few mls between them.  Cut your diamonds out. This will weaken these bits of paper and make it easy to snap the cracker. You can also just perforate along the middle line, if that’s easier.


  • Pop your gift, snap, joke and hat inside your middle toilet roll. Stick this roll to the middle of the paper. Stick your two ends on too, while you’re there. Make sure your snap pokes in the ends a little. Wrap the whole thing up and stick the paper down.


  • Now, brandish your ribbon! Cut a good length off for each end. My favourite bit, tie the ribbon round one end and pull tightly, but carefully. Ta da! Cracker end! Repeat.



This year, I’m making crackers for our team’s Christmas do – and in order that they’re relevant, all of my jokes are about lunch. They are below, but I warn you, they’re pretty awful. I won’t be upset if you skip them and go and look at our lovely recipe for Rosehip Jelly, which is also a great home-made gift for the neighbours.


My list of lunch themed jokes…


Q: What did one plate say to the other plate?

A: Lunch is on me


Q: Did you hear the joke about the peanut butter?

A: Well,  I’m not telling you. You might spread it!


Q: Why did the biscuit make a doctor’s appointment?

A: Because he was feeling crumb-y.


Q: What cheese is made backwards?

A: Edam.


Q: How do you make a milkshake?

A: Give it a good scare!


Have a happy Christmas when it comes round!



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Decorations, How to, Ideas
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Grow with Grange

November 19, 2014
Author: Grainne McCloskey

When Ballyclare Asda Community Life champion Christine told Pamela Davis about The Big Lunch she knew she wanted to make it happen and ‘The Grow with Grange Big Lunch’ was born! This was no ordinary street party – it was more of an estate event with activities spanning the whole area giving folk a reason to get out and walk around the neighbourhood.

Pamela and a steering group from Ballyclare Neighbourhood Renewal Partnership organised the event in the Grange Estate to promote the positive local developments and to improve quality of life in the locality which is within the top 10% most deprived areas in Northern Ireland.

playin out doors at a big lunch street party

A wide variety of activities were on offer in all corners of the estate including storytelling, penalty shootout, parachute games, mini farm, Scottish dancing, BBQ, allotment tours, face painting, temporary tattoos, refreshments by Grange Women’s Group and sporting activities hosted by Sport Changes Life.

There was also an opportunity to visit the Action Cancer Big Bus and talk to health exhibitors and a treasure trail encouraging everyone to walk around the estate.


The Action Cancer Bus provides a truly accessible service across Northern Ireland going to different places every day, Get in touch to bring it to your community.

This day of fun and friendship was delivered by a group of friends and local volunteers and was supported by South Antrim Community Network, Newtownabbey Borough Council, Community Foundation Fund for Northern Ireland, Department for Social Development, and the Northern Health and Social Care trust.

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Asda, Case Study, Community, Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Case Study
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High Street party Comber

November 14, 2014
Author: Grainne McCloskey

Some would say it is much easier to host a Big Lunch from the safe position of being in a constituted group but how many people do you know who would knock strangers doors and invite them all to a street party?

Most people would give a very low number that is unless you live somewhere lucky enough to enjoy an annual Big Lunch street party. These folk know it’s worth biting the bullet and giving it a go.

Rachael grows her own veg and has featured previously on our blog as part of a group called Growing Connections. Every time we catch up a ‘wee’ bit of her knowledge and enthusiasm rubs off on me; so I imagine the same must happen at her street’s annual Big Lunch.

a group of residents from high st comber having a big lunch street party

Comber High Street, Co. Down now host an annual Big Lunch street party thanks to Rachael having the courage to knock that first neighbours door. (more…)

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Case Study, Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Case Study
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Brilliant Wales / Cymru Ddisglair

November 14, 2014
Author: Gwion Thorpe

We were recently featured in the brand new episode of Brilliant Wales (part of Do Something Brilliant‘s Brilliant Britain series) at this year’s sunny National Eisteddfod in Llanelli.  Click the video to watch.

Do Something Brilliant is a Media Trust and Community Channel project, funded by the Big Lottery Fund, that aims to champion communities across Britain and inspire people to do #somethingbrilliant in their own lives, however big or small.

As part of this, the Do Something Brilliant team offer amazing and free video production training to help charities and community groups turn their stories into high quality short films. For more information about workshops in Wales contact Steve Lloyd at SteveL(at)mediatrust(dot)org _______________________________________________________________

Cliciwch y fideo uchod i weld ein eitem ar pennod newydd sbon Cymru Ddisglair (rhan o cyfres Prydain Ddisglair gan y prosiect Gwneud Rhywbeth Gwych) a chafodd ei ffilmio ar maes yr Eisteddfod eleni yn Llanelli.

Mae Gwneud Rhywbeth Gwych yn prosiect gan y Media Trust a’r Sianel Cymunedol, wedi ei ariannu gan y Cronfa Loteri Fawr, sy’n ceisio dathlu cymunedau ledled Prydain ac ysbrydoli pobl i gwneud rhywbeth gwych yn ei ardal nhw.

Fel rhan o hyn, mae’r tim yn rhedeg hyfforddiant cynhyrchu fideo am ddim i helpu elusenau a grwpiau cymunedol i troi ei storiau mewn i ffilmiau byr o safon uchel.  Am fwy o wybodaeth am y cyfle gwych hyn yng Nghymru ebostiwch Steve Lloyd ar SteveL(at)mediatrust(dot)org


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Community, The Big Lottery Fund, Video, Wales
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Writing to your local representatives about The Big Lunch

November 12, 2014
Author: Emily Watts

We occasionally hear from people who have had an issue with their local council in one way or another. Sometimes it’s hard closing roads, sometimes insurance and health and safety rules locally mean your event is difficult to do in the low-cost, simple way that we know works best. Whether it’s a street party or a cul-de-sac get together, sometimes we all need a little bit of help.

We always suggest approaching the relevant department first and foremost, but if they haven’t been able to help you, the next step is to see if your local councillor will be able to do anything.


If local planning rules or policy are getting in the way of your neighbourhood coming together, we’ve put together a letter to help you to write to your local councillor. Here’s a five step plan to help you get the best from it:

1. Download the appropriate letter from our downloadable resources page here

2. Adapt the text so it says what you need it to say, remembering to leave in at least one ask

3. Go to and pop in your postcode – it should give you a list of your local councillors (which is who you’ll want to choose for local planning issues and the like)

4. Copy and paste your amended text into the box, check you’re happy with it, and press send.

5. Alternatively, check on your local council page for the constituency address of your local councillor ( ) print out the letter and pop it in the post.

 Hints and Tips for getting a response

Ensure you adapt the letter! We’ve left it quite open for you to draft your own letter and your own words are always more powerful.

Make sure you’re writing to the right person by only using the postcode where your Big Lunch event was held/ was going to be held.

Be polite (we know you always are) as it really helps to get a constructive response.

 Taking things further

Last year in Scotland, we had a go at getting support from constituency MSPs for The Big Lunch hoping that this would raise the profile of all the effort that you all put in and ease the wheels of supportive Councils at local level. However, what we heard from them was that they would rather hear from you.

You’re more than welcome to write to them yourself – and indeed in your own words might have more impact – or to go to one of their surgeries to talk about your event and the effect it’s had, if you have the mind!

However, in case you’d like to get in touch but don’t know where to start, we’ve developed another handy pro-forma letter you can use. You can find it here, in the relevant country section, and much like above, all you need to do is open it in a word processing programme and adapt it so it’s ‘your’ letter. In this case, it might be best to email the letter back to us, so we can send it out with some leaflets for your MSP – we’ll make sure it goes to the right place if you give us your postcode in the email. Send it to:

Remember to let us know if you wrote to anyone, and what happened!

Good luck!

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How to, Ideas, Top tips
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Recharged Batteries at Exeter Uni Big Lunch

November 11, 2014
Author: Trudi Holden

This year, the chaplaincy at Exeter University organised its third Big Lunch; enjoying it so much they are already planning their next! Here, organiser Clare Ryan-Dodd shares her favourite moments from the day, as well as her top 5 tips to planning a stress free street party or community event.

Exeter University Big Lunch 2014

“I was really pleased with how our Big Lunch turned out this year. It was not only our biggest one yet –about 250 people attended – but it was wonderful seeing how the day improved some working relationships.  I would hope that people made friends. I for one have more contacts at the University following the day!

We had a smoothie bike run by the sports hall, pottery demonstrations and ceramics for sale, plants for sale, games and live music. The Long Goodbye Project ran a stall commemorating WW1, with activities like writing letters from the perspective of someone living at that time. Slow Food also joined in and ran activities educating people about where there food was coming from. The pottery was particularly a huge draw, as were the space hoppers!” (more…)

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Case Study, Community, Education, England, England Case Study, Planning, Stories, Top tips
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Ideas and Resources for Communities in Scotland

November 10, 2014
Author: Emily Watts

Here’s a quick round up of some of the resources, ideas, networks and organisations that can help your community to get active in Scotland.


Ideas for your community

CRNS have launched a great ‘week’ – Choose to reuse week 24-30th November. They have a different theme for each day and you can see them all here. Perhaps you can challenge the neighbours to see whether you can do something each day of the week?

If your wee ones (and not so wee ones!) enjoyed playing out while you all had your Big Lunch, you might be interested in Play Scotland and the national Playday that happens on the 21st June. We’ll be talking more about this in 2015, but in the meantime check out their website and info on Playday. Keep Scotland Beautiful can help you to organise community clean ups. You can find the details here.

 Resources for your community

If you volunteer in your community and want to gain new skills, inspiration and advice, you can still apply for free training camps held down at the Eden Project with our sister project ‘Big lunch Extras’. Travel and accommodation are covered and they need more Scottish representatives – so it’s well worth applying. Sign up here and apply for a specific camp here.

For those of you who have project plans and are about to apply for funding – it’s worth checking out BIG Lottery Fund Scotland’s blog. They are changing some of their programmes and adapting how they work to better help communities. Plans are in the development stages at the moment but some of the current funding streams may be phased out or replaced, so check out their blog here for more information before you apply.

It was a busy Sunday Lunch.Networks and information

Transition Scotland is a growing network of communities who are working towards a fossil-fuel-free world, at same time as making the places we live in more vibrant, productive, interconnected and rewarding. This website is run by and for people who’re working locally for a better future.

If you’re all about the food, then Nourish is the place to be. They support local food production and are looking into how we become more sustainable in terms of our production, selling and eating of food. The community site is here and the main website is over here.

DTAS is a great place to go if you’re pretty established in your community and have big plans for the future. They support the creation of Development Trusts all over Scotland are enabling communities to make their own plans and aspirations a reality. On their site, you can discover the fast growing network of development trusts and the real difference they are making to the communities in which they are based.

The Scottish Community Alliance is a big network of organisations who support development at community level, and have a great newsletter, Local People Leading which often has news of new opportunities and ideas. In their words – ‘We see our work as having two main functions – to promote the work of local people in their communities and to influence national policy development.’

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Ideas, Scotland, Spreading the word
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Neighbourhood Safety and looking out for each other in Scotland

November 7, 2014
Author: Emily Watts

A few weeks back we featured several Big Lunch stories that went hand in hand with local Neighbourhood Watches. We’ve been chatting to our colleagues over at Neighbourhood Watch Scotland about the importance of simply getting to know each other in terms of community safety.


Peter Kirwan, Communications Officer for Neighbourhood Watch Scotland, told us: ‘The reality is that a local Neighbourhood Watch is just neighbours coming together to improve community safety in whatever way that area needs. A number of watches form in response to something like an increase in house break-ins but neighbours also work together to improve things like road and fire safety and to generally look out for the more vulnerable members of the community.’ (more…)

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Friends, Scotland
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