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Have your say about The Big Lunch and you could win a £250 voucher for the Eden shop!

June 27, 2016
Author: Elyse Clarke

It’s that time of the year again! We need your views on The Big Lunch (and we’re prepared to reward you handsomely for it.) Whether your event was big or small, your first or your eighth, we really, really want to hear about it.

So, here is our fabulous survey! Well, ok, it’s as fabulous as we could make it, but we do need to hear your thoughts. If you fill it in you automatically enter the draw to win a £250 Eden Project shop voucher. Go on, have a peek at some of the lovely goodies you could get your hands on!

blog resized collage

All you have to do is set aside 10 minutes, make yourself a cuppa and answer the questions in the link below. And if you have any Big Luncher pals, please pass the link along — the more the merrier!

We say it all the time, but it’s really all of you who hold an event that makes The Big Lunch the amazing, fun and vibrant thing that it is. Your thoughts are essential to keeping it this way and will help us to make it even better next year.

Thank you for your continued participation in The Big Lunch and for filling out the survey.

Fill out the survey here:

Please read The Big Lunch Annual Survey Competition Terms and Conditions. The closing date for the competition is 22nd July 2016.

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Competitions, News, Spreading the word

Big Lunchers: making the ordinary extraordinary

June 20, 2016
Author: Elyse Clarke

This is an excerpt from an email we received from Michael, a Big Luncher who took part in his eighth Big Lunch this year on Coddington Estate, Newark. Michael’s email began like this: “You might like an account of our Big Lunch. It was very ordinary, nothing special, but not withstanding the rain, very enjoyable and worthwhile.”

“This was our 8th Big Lunch and followed the same pattern as before. When our estate was built in 2000-1 a grass area surrounded by a yew hedge was left undeveloped – and we meet there.

The organisation is beautifully anarchic.  I do little more than get the date from the Big Lunch website, put out the notices and provide a few bottles. Unasked, Paul cut the grass beforehand and trimmed one of the overhanging trees, Dave and Ellen put up a gazebo (just as well), Prem put up some bunting (made 8 years ago), and Lewis carried out tables and chairs.

There was a table with bottles of rosé, orange juice and plastic glasses, a scattering of deck chairs, a table labelled “Bring and Share” and folk covered it with plates of a variety of appetising foods – savoury and sweet, hot and cold – but held onto their own bottles of wine or beer or fruit juice!  A display of the history of the site was hung from one of the trees: the grass area had been in the grounds of long demolished Coddington Hall – home of the local squire – and then during the war was an air force camp linked to a nearby airfield.  A map showed that one of today’s houses is built on the site of the sergeants’ latrine! There was an explanation of how our roads got their names.

It was planned to start at 1 pm.  The weather forecast was heavy rain at around three but actually that came at one.  Alone I waited sheltering under the gazebo.  But after about 20 minutes the weather settled for a gentle drizzle and folk began to arrive – under umbrellas.  Most of the time (it was after six when the last revellers left) the rain held off.  There are 41 houses on the estate and about 30 adults and 10 children came – inevitably some were away on holiday. The children ran around playing their own games and the adults just talked.  At four o’clock, exhausted, I went home (just round the corner) for a sleep and when I returned just after six the last few were preparing to leave.  An hour later every trace of a party had gone.

As before, it was a happy, convivial event. As the website says, we gathered “in an open place to meet, greet, eat and drink together for no other reason than it’s fun.”

Very ordinary, nothing special. Well, Michael, we beg to differ. This story captures what The Big Lunch is all about: a simple act of community, friendship and fun. We hope that one day, neighbours across the UK will be like Paul, Dave, Ellen and Prem, who, unasked, set about preparing for The Big Lunch, and did not let the weather stop them from bringing people together. Michael and his neighbours, just like so many of you, made the ordinary extraordinary.

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Case Study, Community, News, Spreading the word, Stories

15 ways to keep community spirit soaring after The Big Lunch

June 15, 2016
Author: Elyse Clarke

The Big Lunch weekend is over but that doesn’t mean your neighbourly interaction should be too! Here are 15 ideas to keep your community spirit soaring high all year round.

1. Start a private Facebook group for your street

Share ideas, have discussions and stay in the loop with each other. If you don’t know everyone’s names yet, ask all members to ask their neighbours left and right so that eventually everyone’s been invited.

2. Start a Monthly Meet Up

This can be in a format that suits your neighbourhood. Perhaps it’s in the church hall at the end of the street, or maybe you take it in turns to host – with a different theme each time! It could be potluck dinners, wine and cheese nights or even Sunday brunch! From here you can discuss further projects, clubs and fun activities.

3. Create a Babysitters Club

For free and trusted babysitters, start a club for mothers and fathers based on points rather than cash. Earn a point by babysitting a neighbour’s kids, spend a point by having a neighbour babysit yours. Instructions and tips here.

The Big Lunch 7th June 2015 Edinburgh Summarised Place street party.

4. Have a Street Swap day

One neighbour’s trash is another one’s treasure. Organise a morning where people can put out good quality items they no longer want, free to go to a good neighbour’s home!

5. Sign up to Streetbank

Streetbank is a website that lets groups create a bank of handy items—think ladders, backpacks, trailers etc. where people can borrow items easily, and also request items to easily ask if one exists in their community.

6. Start a community project

Think of something your group can take ownership of and be proud of: maybe a communal veggie garden, an art project, a walking school bus, or a phone booth book swap!

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7. Look after the elderly

Ask elderly neighbours on regular driving dates to help them with shopping and appointments, and check if they need help with cleaning, bills and home maintenance etc.

8. Have a street working bee

Get together and have a street clean up and guerrilla gardening day—pick up litter, weed hedges and footpath edges, remove or paint over graffiti—then celebrate your sparkling clean street with a shared meal.

Pacemaker Press INTL 05/06/2016: Biglunch Sunday 05 June 2016 Miracle Way Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/ Pacemaker Press

9. Arrange a play day for the kids

Plan some fun activities—maybe the ‘Fun Olympics’ in a local park or hall so that children of the neighbourhood get to know each other and make new friends.

10. Create a ‘Street scrapbook’

Gather stories, photos, clippings, drawings and quotes etc. from all neighbours and create a scrapbook that captures the community’s spirit—add to it or create a new one each year to reminisce over in future years.

11. Walk together

Getting active is easier when there’s a group waiting for you. Start a group for regular walking, whether it’s a pre-work power walk, a mid-morning march or a sun-down saunter!

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12. Volunteer together
Identify a cause you’re passionate about and get to know each other while giving back!

13. Fundraise for community improvement
Organise a weekly raffle, mow lawns, clean cars, sell cakes—you get the idea—to raise money for a community initiative that will make you all happier. Maybe a neighbourhood picnic table, a children’s playground area, a neighbourhood marquee or BBQ, or a base kitty so you’re sorted when a need arises.

14. Look for community funding opportunities

Keep your eyes peeled for pots of community funding to help you with your projects. Start with Funding Central and your local council, and make sure to keep an eye on social media too.

15. Go on a street holiday!
It might be something to aspire to for now, but we’ve had reports of great success from streets that organise annual getaways for the ultimate community bonding experience!

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Community, How to, Ideas, News, Planning, Sharing, Spreading the word, Top tips

What The Big Lunch means to us!

June 10, 2016
Author: Elyse Clarke

Just a few months ago, many of us were brand new to The Big Lunch Programme team, and Big Lunch day seemed very far away in our minds… But here we are – The Big Lunch 2016 is nearly here! This morning our team manager, Lindsey, sent us all a little message in preparation for the Big day and we thought we’d share it with you. We hope that her words will inspire you to continue holding Big Lunches for many years to come and remind you that together, ordinary people can do extraordinary things.

Some of The Big Lunch team at the Eden Project earlier this year

Some of The Big Lunch team at the Eden Project earlier this year

“A slightly bleary eyed start this morning as I jumped in a taxi at 6.20am and zoomed towards Paddington straight down the Mall. The flags are up, crowd barriers line the street, the media centre is in and the flower borders look lovely. Someone has clearly been cleaning for the Queen….

Meanwhile, all over the UK our fabulous Big Lunchers are making their own preparations, checking the bunting, buying the bread, scrubbing the remains of last years’ sausages off the barbeque,  inviting that lady from number 59 that they always bump into in the corner shop and, of course, worrying a little bit about the weather….

And then there is us, The Big Lunch Programme team. In just 5 months we have hurtled from a standing start to delivery of one of the biggest days of our year, and very likely in the programme’s history, which is just amazing!  This week is my 6 year anniversary at Eden and I can honestly say that I have never had a more positive feeling about exactly where we are. Together we make an incredible team, one which I am very proud to be a part of.

Seeing literally thousands of streets and communities across the UK come together for The Big Lunch this weekend will be a fantastic experience for us all and shows how far we have come. Lives have changed for the better, streets have become neighbourhoods, waste ground has been developed into community gardens, people are connecting with one another, everywhere… and all because of the simple premise that we should get to know our neighbours.

As I got my tea in Paddington station this morning the man next to me said, ‘Keep your money and pay it forward…I’ll get your tea and I hope you have a nice day!’  That is human warming in action and a great start to my day, and I will pay it forward, probably many times as it made me feel so good.  I’m taking it as a sign of good fortune as we head into the next few days – our biggest event of the year is always demanding, but is also immensely rewarding.

Ordinary people can, and do, help change the world we live in for the better – just look at us and everything that the wider Eden team has been up to already this year!  Thank you for joining us on the journey and enjoy the ride, as this is just the beginning….”

Have a wonderful Big Lunch weekend!

The Big Lunch Programme Team

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Case Study, News, Spreading the word

Help us make The Big Lunch website better

June 9, 2016
Author: Bob Fear

Here at The Big Lunch, we’re all about bringing communities together and improving the quality of everybody’s lives. This very website is pretty vital for us in trying to make that happen.

help make the big lunch website better

We’re making changes

Therefore, we’re working on a bit of an overhaul that will make it really easy for everyone who comes here to understand what it is we’re trying to do. We want to encourage you to join in and make it simple for you to host your own Big Lunch or other community-enhancing project.

We can’t do this without you. Without your help our new website might not be as good as could it could be. So, all we’re asking for is roughly ten minutes of your time to take our simple survey and help us learn more about who uses The Big Lunch site.

Choose the survey

We’ve prepared two slightly different surveys, so just pick which one is right for you.


Thank you so much for helping us out and we hope that you like our new site when it launches later this year!

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An environmentally friendly Big Lunch!

June 8, 2016
Author: Elyse Clarke

Becca and Lia, green living friends from Cardiff, share their top tips for an environmentally friendly Big Lunch!

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Becca Clark (left) runs Green City Events and Lia Moutselou runs Lia’s Kitchen. Together they have been running Love Food Hate Waste demonstrations and other green food events in Wales.

Make some upcycled décor

Hosting a Big Lunch is a great opportunity to raid the contents of your bin (or your neighbour’s) to see what decorations you could make for your party. You might be surprised how easy it is to make bunting from old scraps of material or even magazines or giant pom poms from old newspapers. You could even dress the tables with flowers made from toilet roll tubes and old jam jars. The possibilities are endless so pop onto Pinterest and get inspired.

Stay away from plastic and polystyrene plates and cups

Now this can be tricky, especially if you are expecting lots of people to come to your Big Lunch, the thought of all that washing up could easily make you resort to cheap throw away cups and plates but don’t do it! Many plastics and polystyrene cannot be recycled and take more than 450 years to decompose in landfill.  But don’t worry there are some great alternatives out there including cups, plate and even cutlery made from plant based materials that are compostable and can be popped straight into your food waste bin or even on your compost heap. We get all our plates, cups and cutlery for our events from Vegware but there are lots to choose from. Another alternative is to ask your neighbours and get everyone to bring a few bits of older kitchenware to the party which brings me on to my next point…

Swap and share with your neighbours

This is a great opportunity to find out what resources there already are on your street.   You might not need to buy lots of plates or hire tables and chairs at all if you just knock on a few doors and chat to your neighbours. After all this is what the Big Lunch is all about.  Why not make a big list of everything you need for your party and then pop a note through your neighbours’ doors asking what people are able to lend – you might be pleasantly surprised. It will help keep the cost and the environmental impact of your party down, without the need to go out and buy lots of new stuff.

If this works well you might even want to set up a more permanent street sharing system for things like garden equipment, tools, books and kitchenware. Platforms like Streetlife can help you do this.

Use your leftovers and manage your waste

Plan carefully so that you don’t make way too much food.  Don’t bring all the food out at once.  What’s left in the fridge can be used the next day or shared out among your neighbours.  Make tortilla or frittata or stir fry with leftover veggies and meat.  However, even with careful planning there is likely to be some food left over on people’s plates.  Bring out a few bins, all labelled up, so that people can compost excess food, and recycle cardboard etc.   Encourage your party goers to clean up after themselves and use the bins correctly, this way you won’t be left with too much mess at the end of the day, and can sit back and enjoy your successful Big Lunch.


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Decorations, Environment, How to, Ideas, Planning, Wales, Wales Case Study

Zero waste Big Lunch ideas

June 8, 2016
Author: Elyse Clarke

Talented Greek cook, Lia Moutselou from Cardiff, thinks the Big Lunch is a great opportunity to reorder your store cupboards and clear your freezer. Here are Lia’s tips and recipes for a tasty day:

“Why not check what you might already have to create a dish? That big bag of rice and lentils could make a fantastic Middle Eastern rice dish with crispy fried onions on top. Remember that you only need up to 70g rice per person! In your freezer you might find that second and third pack of chicken breasts from the most recent buy-one-get-one-free offer. This could make a fantastic chicken salad mixed with green leaves chickpeas, lemons and mint!

You can also mix different meats or vegetable, pulses in your own version of paella or jambalaya. And if the sun is shining and you bring out the BBQ just think that less is more, you can make the most of your barbequed meats when serving them with a rice dish in a tortilla, burrito style! Big dishes such as a chilli con carne or vegetarian version and stews that use chickpeas and beans are filling and economic ideas which never disappoint.

If you have Big Lunch leftovers worry not. Bread can be transformed into a delicious Greek garlic flavoured dip, which will blow your mind. Frittata or Spanish tortilla (or KuKu in Persian) is a dish that around the world was made to use leftovers. Enjoy the recipes we provide you below!”

Here’s Lia’s recipe for Skordalia, a bread & garlic dip from Greece: Zero Waste Skordalia

skordalia pic blog

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Environment, How to, Ideas, Planning, Recipes, Spreading the word, Wales, Wales Case Study

Community Spirit photo competition

June 8, 2016
Author: Elyse Clarke

Send us your best photos from your Big Lunch and you could be in with a chance of winning free entry to the Eden Project and a £100 voucher to spend in the Eden Project shop!

‘Community spirit’ is the theme of the competition, which we hope will be in full force during your Big Lunches. You can interpret this in your own artistic way, and may submit up to five photos for up to five chances to win.

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The Big Lunch team will be deciding the final winner, and will be looking for evidence of joy, togetherness, and positivity—as well as high levels of quality and artistic appeal.

So get snap happy and show us what you’ve got! We look forward to finding out.

Good luck,

The Big Lunch Team


We’re seeking amazing photos from amateur photographers that highlight community spirit at Big Lunches across the UK.


Photos must be taken at events organised as part of The Big Lunch campaign.


Contest entries are accepted from 10.00am 13 June 2016 to 10.00am 18 July 2016.


  • First prize: Double entry pass to the Eden Project and £100 Eden shop voucher
  • Runner up: Double entry pass to the Eden Project and £25 Eden shop voucher

Please click here for details of how to enter, terms and conditions: 
The Big Lunch 2016 Photo competition Terms and Conditions

Competitions, News, Spreading the word

A Royal Big Lunch

June 8, 2016
Author: Elyse Clarke

We know a lot of you will be celebrating HM The Queen’s 90th birthday with a Big Lunch, so we are thrilled to announce that HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, Patron of The Big Lunch, will be attending a Big Lunch street party to celebrate too!

The Prince and The Duchess will attend a street party in the village of Brimpsfield, Gloucestershire on June 12 and inspire the nation to get to know their neighbours, share food, friendship and fun, showing that we can all help build stronger, friendlier communities.

HRH THE DUCHESS OF CORNWALL ATTENDS THE BIG JUBILEE LUNCH AT THE PALACE DEMESNE ARMAGH On the final engagement of a two day visit HRH The Duchess of Cornwall attended the Big Jubilee Lunch at the Palace Demense, Armagh. The Big Lunch is a very simple idea from the Eden Project - encouraging as many people as possible to have lunch with their neighbours once a year. In 2012 the event will support The Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations on Sunday 3rd June and will be called The Big Jubilee Lunch, which her HRH is patron. Photo M T Hurson/Harrisons

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall attends The Big Jubillee Lunch at the Palace Demense, Armagh.

HRH THE DUCHESS OF CORNWALL ATTENDS THE BIG JUBILEE LUNCH AT THE PALACE DEMESNE ARMAGH On the final engagement of a two day visit HRH The Duchess of Cornwall attended the Big Jubilee Lunch at the Palace Demense, Armagh. The Big Lunch is a very simple idea from the Eden Project - encouraging as many people as possible to have lunch with their neighbours once a year. In 2012 the event will support The Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations on Sunday 3rd June and will be called The Big Jubilee Lunch, which her HRH is patron. Photo M T Hurson/Harrisons

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall attends The Big Jubillee Lunch at the Palace Demense, Armagh.

If you’d like to find out more or get involved in The Big Lunch, head to our website where you can request a free information pack. Remember you don’t have to hold a Big Lunch on June 12, it can be whenever suits you and your community!


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Charity, Community, Diamond Jubilee, England, Events, News, Spreading the word

Beat the weather at your Big Lunch!

June 8, 2016
Author: Elyse Clarke

It’s finally Big Lunch week! We hope you’re excited for Sunday and we can’t wait to see all the photos from the day. Fingers crossed we’ll get a lovely day, but, in typical UK style, it may be a case of keeping both your sun cream and your wellies close to hand to deal with our ever-changing weather!

But take it from Big Luncher Jim that you can have a fantastic day regardless of the weather: “Well it rained and it rained, and then it rained more, but we had a great time! It is amazing what a few drinks and a few Gazebos can make you overcome.”

bouncy castle weather 1

So just in case, here’s some ideas to help make your Big Lunch one to remember even if it rains:

  • If rain is forecast in your area and you’ve planned an outdoor Lunch, spread the word over the next few days to ask everyone to bring along spare umbrellas, tarpaulins or marquees that they may have, just in case!
  • But don’t be discouraged if the weather means you have to relocate at short notice. You may be able to use a local community or school hall, or move to a neighbour’s living room or garage. Once you’ve got a slice of cake in one hand and a cup of tea in the other the weather will soon be forgotten!
  • Grab your wellies and waterproofs and share a brolly with your neighbour. Break the ice by indulging in one of our favourite national pastimes – discussing the weather.
  • For the daredevils amongst you, puddle jumping and water fights will never be more acceptable. Keep aside some dry clothes, towels and a vat of hot chocolate and go to town!
  • You could also have a competition for the most outlandish rain-proof outfit, or a welly decorating contest.
  • Embrace the perks of a rainy day – no wasps, sunburn or terrible tan lines!

umbrella weather 1

You might even make some unexpected new friends. Just look who showed up at one Big Lunch!

ducks blog 1

We hope you have an amazing Big Lunch and that come rain or shine you have a fabulous day! Let us know all about it by sending your photos and videos to and your stories to

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How to, Ideas, Planning, Spreading the word, Top tips
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