You’ve planned, attended and enjoyed a wonderful Big Lunch on your street and now you’re thinking what’s next!
The beauty of getting involved with your community for one day is that it can lead to so many more opportunities to develop and embrace your local area. Just by chatting to your neighbours, ideas are instantly shared and questions are discussed. We have a few ideas too that might be of interest to you or your neighbours who are looking to get involved in another project that can help benefit your local area.
Here are our Top 3
A campaign from Friends of the Elderly, be a friend is a very simple but powerful and effective idea. The campaign asks people to make a promise to be a friend to an elderly person in their neighbourhood. Being a friend can be anything from helping a neighbour with their shopping, popping over for a cup of tea and a chat every week or helping someone use the internet. You can join in on this wonderful idea by making a pledge today!
Are you a bit of a creative type? Or someone who wants to unleash their inner arty side? Well, Superact is the place for you to start getting creative whilst also improving the lives of those in your community. With a number of projects happening across the UK, Superact is an organisation focused on using art, music and other creative platforms to promote social inclusion as well as wellbeing. Check out their projects here.
Rotary is a wonderful charity that strives to improve the lives of others through their dedicated number of volunteers across the UK. There are many ways you can volunteer with them and the options of how you get involved really do encompass a wide range of ages and interests. So get started!
And, of course there is Big Lunch Extras which is a wonderful platform to explore your community-led ideas! Find out more here.
Got a Big Lunch planned just in time for the end of Summer? How about putting your green skills to good use in the kitchen and knocking up a virgin cocktail that incorporates your home grown herbs!
This summer I started growing my own herbs and it is has been wonderful seeing them grow taller and taller. Herbs aren’t just great for cooking but are a fragrant addition to summer drinks too, putting that fresh green taste into every sip!
Basil is a lovely herb that is best associated with Italian cooking, but it also pairs so well with berries and sharp fruits.
Makes 1 glass (triple the measurements to make a small jug to share at events)
30ml rose water
6 basil leaves
1 large handful of pomegranate seeds (you could also use blueberries as these work really well too)
150ml tonic water
Pick your basil leaves, gently rinse them and set aside
In a large glass pour the rose water, then squeeze the juice of the lime into the glass and stir well
Pour the tonic water into the glass and stir again; add in the pomegranate seeds too
Pour the mixture into a cocktail glass (add any umbrella/straws to add a party feel!)
Lastly, chop the basil leaves up into very small pieces and sprinkle over the drink
What makes your Big Lunch the most delicious? Share your food and drinks tips with us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Beatroute Arts is a music and arts project based in Balornock, north Glasgow, and we have occupied a community centre building for the past 8 years. We’re predominantly youth focused but are increasingly trying to run projects open to all ages. We thought The Big Lunch might be a good tie –in for us as a way to bring more people into the centre.
I think, especially in areas like this, people are more willing and more in need to come together than you might realise. Community is really important, and there’s not an awful lot of it around these days, so the more we can do to promote it the better.
Rather than seeing regular users of the centre on the day, we had people coming in that we hadn’t seen before and they have tended to come back, which is great.
We used the day as an opportunity to ask local people what they want to see happening in the community and what activities might encourage a wider spread of ages into the centre. We had quite a few older people come along and they highlighted things they used to attend but that no longer happen – all great ideas we’re now looking to put in place. It needs to come from on the ground rather than us implementing something and finding that no one wants to take part.
A challenge is, even if people are aware of local activities, they don’t always have the confidence to get involved. It takes a lot to walk through the doors somewhere for the first time, especially on your own. We are thinking hard about ways to communicate to those that are harder to reach. I see the regularity and the visibility of something like The Big Lunch as something that could really help us with this each year.
My advice would be – just do it! Even though we had a short amount of time we felt that it was better to do it and have a small number of people than not do it at all, because you can build on it. I don’t think it’s the kind of thing you can fail at, what’s important is bringing people together in whatever number that might be, and the quality of the interaction that they have. We were really surprised at the great response, having done very little planning and putting the word out casually. For a community event there’s a lot to be said of just going out and speaking to people, because that’s exactly what community is!”
Thanks to Jenny for her time! Share your story email@example.com
We always love to hear stories from Big lunchers about how their day went, and what changes – big or small – they’ve noticed in their community as a result. It’s especially exciting to see how the small conversations on Big Lunch day can add up over the years to big impact on people’s lives.
So, we were extra touched recently to hear from long-standing luncher Bryan Pope from Tyrwhitt Road in Lewisham, who has been holding Big Lunches since its very inception in 2009.
Despite contending with personal health issues – which makes getting out and about often tricky – Bryan has worked tirelessly over the last 6 years to get his neighbours to have lunch and some fun together for an annual celebration. The event, which is fast becoming legendary in Lewisham, draws people – both young and old – from all areas of the community.
Every June, young children enjoy playing in a bouncy castle, or having their faces painted, while adults share street food with new and old friends from the local area. There is always plenty of food donated by the local residents and the event is drawing more and more people in from the local area. In fact, this year, Bryan was happy to welcome 350 people to their street!
But the magic of the day isn’t just the buzz that’s created on the street; it’s also the impact it’s having on the area of Lewisham and its residents. Bryan notes that the crime rate has fallen drastically since his Big Lunch events, and continues to drop as more and more people connect with one another. Residents comment on a stronger feeling of community
Bryan says: “It was wonderful seeing so many residents, volunteers and staff from our supporters Pinnacle PSG on the day. The people that came along were a mix of both old and new residents that were exactly what we wanted and everyone that came enjoyed themselves. I think this year’s event was the best yet, and I hope that the events like this will make the neighbourhood safer, more vibrant and more connected!”
As a proud partner of The Big Lunch, this year a record number of Halifax colleagues across the UK organised Big Lunches to have fun and to help communities get to know each other. More than 2,500 Halifax colleagues volunteered their time to organise and take part in a whopping 117 Big Lunch events. Let’s find out a bit more about some of the amazing events that took place!
Halifax colleagues from across Wiltshire organised the Swindon Big Lunch as a Teddy Bears’ Picnic in aid of Children in Need. Activities included dance acts, baton twirlers, a giant inflatable Play Zone, face painting and glitter tattoos, as well as hair braiding and a colouring competition. TV presenter Michael Underwood, was also at the event to meet visitors, he said: “It is great to see the whole community getting together and having fun.”
Meanwhile, Halifax colleagues across North London hosted a Big Lunch at Lanchester Community Free School, with special guests including the Mayor, a fire engine and Pudsey Bear. Activities included a choir, face painting, a bouncy castle, giant Jenga – and a group of Halifax mortgage advisors selling Indian snacks. Roshini Melwani, Halifax Branch Manager in Watford and Community Ambassador, said “The Big Lunch provides a great opportunity for us to talk to people on a more personal level and really helps strengthen relationships in the community.”
Halifax colleagues also supported some of your events. Across Cornwall, Halifax colleagues teamed up to help out at the Par Community Association Big Lunch. Over 1,000 people from the local community attended the event and broke the World Record for the biggest number of people eating cream teas at the same time. Halifax Branch Manager & community ambassador Trish Henderson said “our Halifax colleagues were there from start to finish and everyone who supported the event worked tirelessly to make it an amazing day.”
Big thanks to The Halifax and all the colleagues for their continued support of The Big Lunch and all they do for communities across the UK!
To find out more and to watch a short clip showing highlights from the day please visit: www.halifaxcommunities.co.uk/thebiglunch
Hannah Charnock explains her second Big Lunch success as Shakespeare Street comes to life for Summer and Winter events!
“I moved to the street almost 3 years ago and I knew my neighbours either side but nobody else. There had been street parties in a street close to where I used to live, but I lived in a block of flats on a main road where it wasn’t possible to have a street party. The street we live on now has 65 houses and is in an area of Hove called Poets Corner. The roads are all named after poets and we’re Shakespeare Street. Last year, I couldn’t do the Big Lunch on Big Lunch day so we did it in July but it fitted nicely as it was Shakespeare’s 450th birthday so we themed it for his birthday.
Some of us got together to make homemade bunting a few weeks before the event and that helped us get to know one another before the main event!
The day was a roaring success, with neighbours getting together not only to share a lunch, but also pooling their talents to entertain each other with various activities during the day. The party totally transformed the nature of the street; barely anyone knew anyone else before the party, but afterwards there was such a community spirit – it went without saying that it would not be the last party on the street!
A Shakespeare Street Facebook group was subsequently formed and is used regularly to share news and ideas (including currently looking at getting trees planted on the street), and to organise future events. A Shakespeare Street Christmas party was then held at the local pub, including a raffle which raised over £800 for the Rockinghorse Appeal and Oxfam. Having the Facebook group also made the Big Lunch 2015 a whole lot easier to coordinate the second time around! (a great Big Luncher tip!)
Among many activities at this year’s party we had laughter yoga, Bollywood dancing and a Street Bake Off. Even the street’s canine residents were catered for with a dog show, ‘Ruffs’. The party was again sponsored by our generous local estate agent Whitlock & Heaps, who helped contribute towards the cost of a bouncy castle, childrens’ entertainer and live local band, The Real Decoys. The Mayor of Brighton and Hove, Councillor Lynda Hyde was also present with her entourage to cut our cake and join us for lunch.
Shakespeare Streeters are convinced it’s the happiest street in Hove!”
Have you got a story to tell? Share yours at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here at The Big Lunch, we’re big fans of street art. From chalk pavement drawings, colourful bunting and street lamp yarn bombing, to good old fashioned landscape drawings of your street; anything that adds colour and celebration to where you live!
Now – thanks to our friends Its Our World – your Big Lunch artwork could be added to the UK’s largest online collection of artwork mapping the British Isles!!
It’s Our World are calling on anyone aged 4-19 years old to upload a piece of artwork which reflects their local environment; whether that’s a drawing of their street, or a collage of their favourite local landmark. Like a Big Lunch, the artwork can be as big or small as you like, and be urban, rural or coastal in location.
Not only will your neighbourhoods’ artwork be added to the Its Our World website map, the entire collection will be handed over to the UK Web Archives in December, to be stored for the whole nation! You can view a selection of artwork examples so far here
To celebrate this exciting project, we’re giving away limited edition Big Lunch art kits – including street art chalk, Big Lunch pencils and an eden project notepad – to the first 20 artists to upload onto the website! Simply let us know once your artwork has been uploaded by emailing email@example.com with the title “Big Lunch art“.
The streets just behind Queen’s University in Belfast have often made the headlines for all the wrong reasons but a group of local people have been determined to make their environment a shining example of what can be done with vision, community spirit and green fingers!
People living in College Park Avenue, University Avenue and Rugby Road persuaded Belfast City Council to gate their alleyway and transform it with flowers, wall murals, brightly painted gates and fences, cobblestones, relaxed seating, bird feeders, hopscotch and more, including plans for mosaics created by University of Ulster art students.
Big Lunch day seemed like a perfect opportunity to launch Wildflower Alley as the first community led regeneration project in an area that has been in serious decline for the past twenty years. Without any statutory support, the residents of the alley gated area combined and up-cycled resources for a series of voluntary clean up days to develop a new shared space.
Bríd Ruddy, Chair of the College Park, Residents Association said: “We had a great Big Lunch day together and hope that Wildflower Alley will ‘sow the seeds’ for the social and economic regeneration that is so badly needed in this area and promote the need for mutual respect within a shared neighbourhood. I also welcome the strong partnership with Queen’s University who supported the project and we very much welcome Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tony Gallagher, launching our initiative.
The enhanced community spirit in these three streets has enabled us to reach out to the wider community and the multi ethnic groups who live in the neighbourhood. We also developed new partnerships with agencies such as Conservation Volunteers, Grow Wild, Belfast City Council and students from the two universities.”
Professor Gallagher said: “Queen’s support for this project further enforces our commitment to the local community and highlights the importance of making a positive impact on society.”
Elaine from Edinburgh shares her street’s Big Lunch journey over the past 7 years!
“We decided to give The Big Lunch a go from the very first year, back in 2009, when we realised we didn’t know everyone in our stair of 8 flats – we’ve now held one every year since! It has been a real icebreaker for us, bringing our community closer together, breaking down barriers and providing a chance to socialise.
We started off small for the first 3 years and had a BBQ in the communal garden to rear of our flats. This has now expanded to the whole of street and takes place in a previously locked and unused, council owned and managed shared green space. All the neighbours were delighted that we had negotiated having the shared greenspace opened for general use again.
We’ve ended up meeting people who had lived in the street for over 40 years but who I had never even seen before as they rarely come out. They had seen previous year’s events through their window and decided to come down to join us one year. Ahead of our Big Lunch this year, I bumped into the daughter of one of our more elderly neighbours who said how much her mum was looking forward to this year’s event. Feedback like that makes all the hours posting invites through doors hugely worthwhile!
We have set up a Facebook page, which we advertised on lampposts and fences in the street, which has also helped in planning events and keeping in touch. For example, the page was recently used to raise awareness of a new development that some neighbours felt was negative, and consequently the local community council got involved.
Personally, it’s been great as there’s now more people that I can say ‘hi’ to on a day to day basis and that I could call on if a problem arose. It’s been really interesting to find out about what talents, resources and contacts people have locally too. Who knew we had a designer (who does our poster each year), a local market worker who could provide our marquees, folk talented with children’s activities and so many great cooks and bakers on our doorstep!
My top tip would be to get as many people to bring their skills and talents to the table as possible and, before you know it, you have the makings of your streets very own, unique Big Lunch!”
Want to tell your Big Lunch story? Get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org
The Kiddiers have spread The Big Lunch love from Essex all the way up to Edinburgh. Step mum Debbie, daughter Lou and sister Georgia, have enhanced their family bond through hosting lunches for their neighbours at other ends of the country.
Debbie Kiddier explains all:
My daughter Lou encouraged me to organise a Big Lunch as we have the perfect spot being a cul-de-sac. I approached our neighbours by knocking on doors and speaking to them about the idea, and leaving invites. Everyone seemed keen to get involved.
We had a meeting at my house, to ensure everybody could have a say in what was going to happen on the day, and we had a good turnout. People had clearly given it some thought and there was a lot of excitement as ideas were discussed.
On the day everybody came out to decorate the road and the tree in the centre. It all looked beautiful. Around 60 people turned out, including families that like ours were now three and four generations. People who had been in the road for forty years, and one family who had only just recently moved in.
The sharing table was a great success, with foods ranging from cupcakes to Sri Lankan fish balls. We had permission to close the road from 1-4pm, but people were still outside at 7pm and reluctant to leave even then. I was very pleased Lou encouraged us to organise the street party.
I did have apprehensions as I was not sure if anybody would be interested or who would turn up but we have all agreed that we will definitely do it again next year. A truly fabulous experience which has brought the neighbourhood together.
I had heard of the Big Lunch, but had never really thought about it seriously until Lou encouraged us to get involved ourselves. I probably wouldn’t have instigated it myself if Lou hadn’t encouraged me.
Lou Kiddier shares her side:
We had a lovely connection between Edinburgh and Essex this year. One of my neighbours mentioned that their friend had moved to Chelmsford and didn’t know anyone. I found out she was really close to Georgia. I managed to connect them so that she was able to join in Georgia’s big lunch and meet new people. Small world!
Knowing the great effects which The Big Lunch can have on a street and the community, I suggested that my step mum Debbie Kiddier organise one in her street in Perry Hill, Essex. She was apprehensive at first, but I told her she wouldn’t regret it and she too held a really successful Big Lunch.
What’s nice about my family holding Big Lunches on the same day is that we can talk about it in the run up and share our stories after. It brings us closer together even though we’re 400 miles apart. Next we hope to persuade my brother to hold one in his village pub beer garden!
Last year we had a chat with Lou about her Big Lunch experience, read the full story here.
We absolutely love hearing your unique Big Lunch stories, share yours at: email@example.com