“I first got to know my neighbours when I became a Neighbourhood Watch volunteer and went round the houses introducing myself. Before that I only knew the people next door and opposite, but we’ve all got to know each other better since and The Big Lunch has helped us keep these ties.
We organised our first street party in July 2012; new friendships were forged and we decided to have another party before the children went back to school. It was clear after that summer that there was an appetite to get together more. However, it wasn’t until the next year I heard about The Big Lunch, and what was happening in communities across the UK, and I applied for my free pack.
We had a great street party last June and were lucky to have our local ASDA Community Life Champion’s support and Halifax staff volunteers even came and cooked for us. We know we won’t always have that level of support but that’s us hooked now and we’re already making plans for this year.
Street parties are a really simple concept but I’ve seen big impacts first hand. We have a large elderly population and previously didn’t pay them much attention. Now that we get together as a street more often, there is a connection there, and it’s clear how much the older and younger residents get from coming together on these occasions.
We have a system now whereby if blinds aren’t opened by lunchtime, someone will check to see if the older householders are okay. Such a small gesture could be a life-saver. I believe if everyone adopted one elderly person in their street it would make such a difference to communities.
We have too few community spaces in Portstewart. Like in many towns, single parent families are struggling and young people desperately need a meeting place. Since my attendance at Big Lunch Extras I have become more involved in my locality – I’m currently in negotiations to find a local music venue and I’m campaigning for phase two of the renovation of our local community centre. People need these spaces, and occasions like The Big Lunch, to keep active and make local ties that can prove to be a real life-line, especially for the most vulnerable in the community.”
Thank you to Big Luncher, Alison Torrens, for sharing her story! She is a community-minded lady and uses much of her time volunteering and campaigning on local intergenerational issues in her hometown of Portstewart, Northern Ireland.
Primary and nursery schools across Northern Ireland are invited to take part in The Big Lunch ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ competition where three lucky schools will be selected to win a £200 cash prize to support sustainability in School.
The competition is being delivered by The Big Lunch, the UK’s annual get together for neighbours, in partnership with the national food waste campaign, ‘Love Food Hate Waste’.
To take part, schools, individual classes, groups or clubs should host a Big Lunch, and demonstrate how they encouraged visitors, staff and pupils to think about their food waste. The Big Lunch and Love Food Hate Waste are encouraging you to bring your entire school community together to help promote and share sustainable living ideas such as ways that you can help reduce your food waste.
Now in its sixth year The Big Lunch successfully illustrates how sharing a meal together can help us build community spirit and provides neighbours and local communities with an opportunity to make local connections. It’s funded by the Big Lottery and partnered by Halifax, ASDA and StreetClub by B&Q.
There is a host of information, hints and tips for planning your event on The Big Lunch website and you can find food waste reduction ideas and downloadable resources for on going use at www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/partners
*Participation in this competition can count towards the Eco-Schools programme, as part of the waste topic. We hope that you will consider taking part in this exciting competition, and look forward to seeing your entry! If you have any questions about the competition, please don’t hesitate to contact Grainne McCloskey
There’s more information on taking part and the judging process below, Good Luck!
Entries must be received by email and will be scored in the following way:
The Judges decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
The Eden Project started The Big Lunch in the belief that we, as a society, are better equipped to tackle the challenges that we face when we face them together. At no time has that been more apparent than during the last few months – the wettest winter on record according to the Met Office – where people and communities have come together to protect, help and support each other during the storms and floods.
You may have heard the piece on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning about ordinary people (like you and me) who have taken unpaid leave to go and help flood victims on the Somerset Levels. The woman interviewed explained that although the help from professional organisations was needed and that they were grateful for it, “who do you rely on every day? It’s your neighbours”. There are other examples right across Britain where this is happening. It’s amazing and it just goes to show how important a sense of community and togetherness is and how awesome we human beings can be when we put our minds to it.
Here in Wales, as part of our PR launch, I’ve spent the past week meeting people who will be hosting a Big Lunch (or Cinio Mawr) this year to bring people together in their neighbourhood. People like Lucy and Eleri in Raglan, Boudicca in Cardiff and the team at Pedal Power in Wrexham who are holding their first ever Big Lunches this year; and others like Lis Duffy and Sian Roach that are building on last year’s success.
It’s also St David’s Day here in Wales this weekend, where we honour the patron saint of Wales and celebrate our wonderful culture, heritage and people. A quote attributed to St. David reads “be cheerful and keep your faith and belief”. That seems pretty apt for a lot of people at the moment, Welsh or not, so with the blue skies returning and spring on its way, let us all look forward to brighter skies and happy times.
Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus!
On March 12 The Big Lunch in partnership with Derry City Council, Music City 2014 invites you to come along and help us launch The Big Lunch in Northern Ireland.
The Big Lunch is bridging friendship between neighbours in communities across the UK. Join us for a bite to eat; we would love you to share your experience and if you haven’t had a Big Lunch yet come along to get a wee taste of The Big Lunch and how The Big Lunch Extras FREE community boot camp can support your community action.
Need a bit more info? Contact Grainne.McCloskey@thebiglunch.com
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation recently commissioned the Neighbourhood Approaches to Loneliness Programme who developed the Can Do Guide to Community Action. Groups who want to put their ideas into practice in their community, such as organising a Big Lunch, can access this short, practical and fun guide here. Drawing on the real-life experiences of community groups, it offers useful tips and pointers to further help on getting started, keeping the momentum going and dealing with both the myth and the reality of risk and red tape.
Clare from Brackenwood Road in Stapenhill held a second Big Lunch in 2013. Just before, Clare and her husband were invited to the first Big Lunch Extras camp at the Eden Project and gained the confidence to do even more with the community. Clare shares their story:
“For our Big Jubilee Lunch a lot of the funding came from the residents’ own pockets but this year the street applied for a local community grant from our council. When I applied to close my road, the lady on the phone directed me towards the funding idea. I spoke to a councillor and he said yes, you should absolutely apply, and we did. The council were ever so supportive. The funding paid towards a barbecue which along with the raffle raised £900 for two charities; Help for Heroes and Tab4thefallen11!
Fundraising really gives people something to centre on and is a great way to get stuck into The Big Lunch – people can get really involved when there’s a charity or two, even local businesses. We live in a brewery town and the brewery donated refreshments and B&Q donated a barbecue which we gave as a raffle prize. Our Big Lunch next year is already in the planning stages. We’re going to celebrate it with a community clean up!
Just before The Big Lunch last year I was invited along to the first Big Lunch Extras event in May and because my husband and I had organised events such as this together he came along too. It was a great event and we met lots of lovely people. During the days everyone split into different groups and did a series of activities, one of them involved us going down to the beach and building a city. Everyone worked together to facilitate the building and fetch water for the river.
Because of Big Lunch Extras we gained the confidence to push our community further. We are already active in the community but the camp made us want to do more aside from fundraising for charities. We decided we wanted to be more proactive in community projects. That’s how we (the other residents included) came up with the idea of regenerating the play area. When we took the idea to a council meeting we sat down with the councillors and they asked my neighbour and I to be a part of the parish council.
We’re planning to redevelop the local area and playground at the nearby recreational ground as it’s overgrown and feels unsafe. Now that we’ve met with the parish council we’ll have residents meetings hopefully every week. It’s great because we have lots of professionals on the street to help out with the project – even a gardener!”
Clare also set up a residents Brackenwood Road Big Lunch Facebook page to keep residents updated about the community project and provide a shared platform in which people can input their own thoughts and ideas, as well as post photos of their Big Lunch, “There’s been a lot of positive feedback about the project on Facebook – people really feel it’s theirs and will be able to enjoy it!
Why not start a Facebook group for your Big lunch or community to help get conversations going and share ideas!
The Big Lunch is the UK’s annual get-together for neighbours and is a great way to meet other people on your street. If you’re planning a street party, you’ll need to start thinking about notifying your local council. Local councils in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have different rules and requirements so the process may vary depending on where you live in the UK.
Most councils ask for up to 12 weeks’ notice in order to process a road closure application, but this can vary depending on the council, type of road and area. Your local council will be able to advise you on this. A good place to start would be to contact the roads and highways, events or communities departments.
Councils are being encouraged to make it easier for residents to hold street parties by cutting red tape and reducing costs where possible, but some councils may still charge a small fee. In England, Department for Transport has scrapped guidance that encouraged this which means you have the right to challenge what those charges are for.
In addition to this, in many cases there is no requirement by law to have public liability insurance for a small residential street party, however The Big Lunch would recommend that the organiser does check if they need insurance for their event. You can find out more by visiting our FAQ page.
The Department for Communities and Local Government have recently produced a clear and simple guide on how to hold a street party, which dispels popular myths about what you can and can’t do in England. It also includes an application form that you can send straight to your local council. This can be downloaded here. As well as this, the Office for Civil Society has created a useful “Can Do” guide to organising voluntary and community events which can be found here.
Check the Scotland Star Councils page for more detailed information on what some of the councils require. These councils relax the road closure process for genuine community events like The Big Lunch, though most roads departments ask for notice or that an application be filled out, with each of these judged on its own merit. For more information about closing your road in Scotland, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Wales you are likely to need appropriate permission and licences from your local Council if you are planning an event that needs one or more roads closed or if you plan to erect a stage or a marquee. Normally, it will just be a case of filling in a simple form but speak to your council as soon as possible to find out what they need and allow enough time for things to process. If you need further help or guidance please email email@example.com
Road closures are handled differently in Northern Ireland, if you’re interested in closing your road please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re having problems closing your road in England, please email email@example.com.
If you can’t close your road (for reasons beyond your control such as it being an emergency vehicle access route), you can hold your Lunch on any patch of land or any building such as a communal, private or pub garden, a local park, church, temple, driveway – wherever you want, as long as you have the relevant permissions.
Go bananas for bunting this year and enter our Big Green Bunting Competition!
We’re looking for the most creative use of old unwanted items; from reused scraps of fabric, old clothes, tents, plastic bags or even old wellies! We know there are plenty of things to be found in your home or workplace simply waiting to be up-cycled to make beautiful bunting for a Big Lunch; so the more inventive you can get the better.
To kick-start your imagination, we have plenty of tips, advice and how to guides from our friends at Reuseful UK; who share their expertise of transforming seemingly unwanted items into Big Lunch decoration gems!
If you haven’t already, order your free Big Lunch pack today for a fab bunting template sheet and step by step guide.
One entry will be selected by a panel of judges to win a Reuseful UK crafting Hamper worth £100, Big Lunch goodies and a £100 voucher to spend in the Eden Project online shop. All entries will feature on our “Big Green Bunting Competition” Pinterest board and may also be used on the ideas section of The Big Lunch website.
Please read these competition rules carefully. If you enter, we will assume that you have read these rules and that you agree to them.
Greater Pollock Integration Network (GPIN) works to encourage mutual understanding between asylum seekers, refugees and the local host community of Kennishead in the Southside of Glasgow. Diane McWilliam is project co-ordinator and brought The Big Lunch idea to neighbours there, organising their first event in 2012.
“We offer a wide range of events and activities at GPIN that allow people to get together – regardless of where they are from – to make friends and enjoy each other’s company. We’re a very diverse community, with a huge range of languages spoken and cultures represented and The Big Lunch idea just seemed to fit really well with what we’re trying to achieve with the Integration network. It’s a way to encourage everyone to come together to have fun one afternoon, to get to know each other and share ideas and feelings about the area, because it’s non-threatening and all-inclusive.
On the day, we invited people to put their memories and their current feelings about Kennishead up on a ‘wall’ so that people could see how views have changed. From the responses we received it would seem that there is a much better understanding among people, that they feel safer and enjoy living there more than they maybe did when they first moved to the area. This is hopefully something the Integration Network’s activity has played a big part in, bringing people together to find common ground and share experiences through activity and events like The Big Lunch.”
Why not dedicate a space at your Big Lunch to share memories and feelings about the place you live? Encourage people who come along to add a memory or a thought to the wall (this process will be easier if you pop your own up first – people find a blank wall more intimidating!) and make sure to have a good look at it with everyone at the end of your Big Lunch.
Have you visited your local Scrapstore recently? For anyone who loves craft they are like an Aladdin’s cave full of items that are bound to engage your attention and generate that latent creative spark that is within all of us!
Reuseful UK members (formerly Scrapstores UK) accept a vast range of safe, clean and non-toxic materials from both businesses and private donors and makes them available through 90+ creative reuse centres throughout the U.K.
By reusing rather than recycling, the Reuseful UK network ensures that we:
By taking products that still have tons of potential and breathing new life into them – instead of consigning them to the rubbish bin – their centres are a treasure trove of creative materials perfect for creating colourful decorations for your Big Lunch!
From bunting and tablecloths, to crafty boxes to get creative with your neighbours on the day; their blog also has lots of fun ideas and how-to guides for getting creative with your Reuseful materials.
To find your local Scrapstore and check out how you can get involved in your community, check out Reuseful UK’s website directory, or connect with them on Facebook and Twitter. They are always looking to hear stories and see pictures of how if you have creatively reused items for your Big Lunch or community event.