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January 23, 2015
Author: Grainne McCloskey

#giveme5Our friends at online giving platform Localgiving have announced a 24-hour match fund campaign #GIVEME5 on the 28 January and 25 February, providing a chance for 1,000 small, local charities in the UK to double their donations.

#GIVEME5 follows the success of Triple Tenner Tuesday on 2 December 2014 which saw 583 groups, UK wide, raise a total of £75,736 in just 24 hours..


In this time of austerity, cuts and the uncertainty of future budgets  local charities and community groups need to be thinking differently about fundraising and Localgiving is giving you the opportunity to use their digital fundraising platform and through the support of the Big Lottery Fund, this is completely free.

Localgiving was founded in 2008 by Marcelle Speller OBE as a vehicle to help local charities and community groups to connect with people, fundraise online and take control of their future. Since the organisation’s inception it has assisted over 4,000 charities to raise over £6 million.

Unlike other online fundraising platforms Localgiving works with registered and non registered organisations alike providing them with access to online fundraising and processing Gift Aid for you.

Register Now

Do you represent a local charity that would like to benefit from #GIVEME5 and  other regular match fund promotions?

Localgiving is UK wide and is in receipt of lottery funding.

if you live in Northern Ireland you could access a Free membership today, simply click here to check eligibility.

If you live in other parts of the UK click here.


For further information please contact Julianne at or 02890 408708.

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Making a difference in the community

January 21, 2015
Author: Emma

Amanda Semple is the Community Life Champion (CLC) at Asda Clydebank in West Dunbartonshire. As a CLC it is Amanda’s dedicated job to work with local people and groups on community projects, which included a Big Lunch in 2014!

“Our Big Lunch took place in St Joseph’s Church Hall in the local community of Faifley. I have been working with volunteers and parishioners of the church hall for over a year now and some of the volunteers approached me to help out as the hall was very old and in much need of renovation. This hall means a lot, not only to those in Faifley but to the wider community of Clydebank.


Various attempts were made at raising funds from gala days to bag packing. I then, with the help of a colleague, made an application to the Asda Foundation detailing the work that needed doing and the foundation awarded St Joseph’s £12,206 – all involved with the project were absolutely over the moon! With The Big Lunch fast approaching, I used this opportunity to bring the whole community together and have a huge celebration, and that we did.

We invited community groups from Clydebank including a local care home, scouts group and primary school. We expected 60 people at the most but were taken aback when the hall was filled.

After everybody got stuck into the buffet and mingled, we presented some of the parishioners and volunteers with the big cheque and the hall absolutely erupted. The applause was amazing, even bringing some of the older generations to tears. This was a fantastic afternoon and brought so many people together, with new friendships being formed. I have made friends with the volunteers of the hall and have spent a great deal of time with these people. I can see how much this means to all of them.


Asda is part of the community surrounding our stores and I use St Joseph’s as an example of what can be achieved. My Big Lunch was probably one of the best days I have had since taking on this role and I hope to continue making a difference within my community.

We’d love to hear from more Asda CLCs about their Big Lunch stories! Get in touch –

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Asda, Case Study, Scotland Case Study, Spreading the word
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Be a Big Lunch blogger

January 15, 2015
Author: Trudi Holden

We believe that Big Lunch experiences, ideas and advice is best described by Big Lunchers themselves; who can share in their own words what Big Lunch means to them and what they have learnt along the way. We also know that word of mouth is our strongest tool for getting the word out, and that real life stories really resonate with people interested in taking part. This is why over the years our case studies and champions have made the campaign what it is today.

be a Big Lunch blogger

In 2015 we want to create a community of Big Lunch Bloggers who will share their experiences, tips and advice for holding a Big Lunch event, and help to inspire others to take part.

Big Lunch bloggers can be experienced veterans or complete newbies, as long as they have the appetite for sharing their Big Lunch ideas, and giving others a taste of what to expect.

There are many ways you can get involved:

  1. Hold a Big Lunch and blog about the experience. From getting your pack and sending out invites, to planning what food to bring and setting up on the day. You could blog once a week in the run up or simply a before and after post; we’d love to follow your Big Lunch journey. Remember, a Big Lunch can be as big or small as you want it to be; as long it had people, food and fun!
  2. Already have some gems of advice or creative ideas for planning a street party? Blog about your decoration ideas, top tips for closing your road or recipes to share with a crowd. We would love to share your ideas with our Big Lunchers and may even feature it on our own website.
  3. Prefer to say it in photos or film? You Tube, Pinterest or Instagram diaryies are another way you could help to spread The Big Lunch word, and help others to visualise what their Big Lunch could become. You may want to do a couple of “how to” videos, street party foodie photos or a Big Lunch pin board of decoration ideas.

2014_BL_Northfield_Central_Carl Murphy_9882-2-017

Sharing your Big Lunch journey not only helps to inspire others to hold their own street party or community event, it’s also a great way for you to reach out to new audiences with your blog. We can help to promote your posts, videos and photos; and may also like to feature your content on our own blog and in our UK- wide newsletters.

Interested in finding out more? Get in touch with for more information.




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Sharing, Spreading the word, Stories
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New year, new cinema for your community?

January 13, 2015
Author: Hannah

Are you interested in setting up a neighbourhood cinema for your community? Saville Audio Visual is celebrating the launch of BFI Neighbourhood Cinema by holding an exciting competition. Saville will be providing a complete cinema package to the winning entry and the BFI Neighbourhood Cinema team will help them to get up and running. The package includes a 4000 Lumen Projector, Projection Screen, Full HD Smart Blu-ray player, Amplifier, Speakers with stands and a Magic Movie Mobile to keep everything safe in! People watching a film in a community cinema The winning community will wow the BFI Neighbourhood Cinema team with a description of how they would put on their first film screening. The competition opens on 19 January 2015, but there’s nothing to stop you getting your entry ready now. You will simply need to describe:

  1. How showing films in your local community venue would make a difference to your neighbourhood
  2. What your first film would be
  3. What you would do to attract audiences to your first screening… and keep them coming back for future films
  4. Who will be involved

You’ll need to make sure you have permission from your local venue (it might be a town, village or community hall) to show films. And the BFI Neighbourhood Cinema team strongly recommend including photos of your community and cinema team – you may even want to include a ‘we want a cinema’ petition from your community. You might find some useful ideas on the BFI Neighbourhood Cinema website itself, and on this Set up a community cinema resource from Big Lunch Extras. Or you could draw inspiration from the story of the Liverpool Plaza, an Art Deco picture house that was saved from redevelopment by its community and is now owned and operated by local residents. You’ll find all of the Terms and Conditions on the BFI Neighbourhood Cinema website when the competition opens on 19 January. It closes on 9 February 2015 and the winner will be announced at the end of February. Good luck!

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Community, Competitions

Easy Soda Bread Recipe

January 11, 2015
Author: Grainne McCloskey

Soda bread is the easiest of breads to make and it’s cheap, low fat and perfect for any Big Lunch. In case of confusion this is an Ulster recipe and here we refer to the wholemeal version of this recipe as Wheaten bread, which I can also share if any of you are interested, just comment below.

Soda bread really is childs play, I know this because my kids had fun making it. They loved the wee story about how in the old days it was said that bread with a cross on it warded off evil spirits. In Ireland we still cut a deep cross in the middle, but did you know originally it was said to be done so any bad fairies that were trying to spoil the baking could jump out!  My son spent a long time staring through the oven door in the hope of saving a roasting wee fairy or two!

So here is the recipe by Forage Ireland part of a series of Incredible Edible workshops I attended by Cloughmills Community Action team.

mary from Forage Ireland baking soda six ways

Mary from Forage Ireland baking Soda bread six ways

The great thing is once you master the basic recipe it is so flexible you can use it as a base for homemade pizza or add extra ingredients such as olives, pesto or even dulse (purple seaweed found in Ireland)

This is also a perfect base for a big lunch nibble or two, you could easily make the batches smaller and use to dip or as a mini pizza base with a difference.

Soda Bread Ingredients

Makes one Soda Bread If you are baking for a Big Lunch just multiply the ingredients.

  • 350-425ml (12-15fl oz) buttermilk or sour milk
  • 450g (1lb) plain flour
  • 1 level tsp caster sugar
  • 1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp salt

Buttermilk is usually found with goats milk and other products in the milk section of a large supermarket if you havent got any just artificially sour some milk by adding a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice to 2 cups of milk and waiting 15 minutes or so for it to sour.

Easy Soda Bread Method

1. Preheat oven to 230°C (425°F), Gas mark 8.  (if using a range/ Aga use either the bottom of the oven or the flat stove top)

2. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the buttermilk (leaving about 60ml/2fl oz in the measuring jug). Use one hand with your fingers outstretched, bring the flour and liquid together, adding more buttermilk if necessary. Do not knead the mixture or it will get heavy. The dough should be fairly soft, but not too wet and sticky.

3. When it comes together, turn out onto a floured work surface and bring together a little more. Pat the dough into a round shape about 4cm (1½in) deep and cut a deep cross in it. Or divide into smaller circles for soda scones.

4. Place on a baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then turn down the heat to 200°C (400°F), Gas mark 6 and cook for 30 minutes more. When cooked, the loaf will sound slightly hollow when tapped on the base and be golden in colour. Turn it upside down for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy and let us know how you and your own wee fairies get on we’d love to hear who you share it with!


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How to, Northern Ireland, Recipes
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Edinburgh neighbours share street party appetite!

January 9, 2015
Author: Emma

When Lara’s next door neighbour mentioned The Big Lunch to her, she remembered that previously it was something that she’d liked the sound of but never got round to – now there was someone else interested, and that made all the difference! They agreed to see if there was an appetite for holding a street party in their Edinburgh neighbourhood…


“It seems to be a common theme that neighbours have fewer opportunities to meet informally in their own locality.  In Willowbrae, we’ve seen the closure of the baker, post office, pub and chemist. Some of us lead such busy lives that unless we make an effort, chances are we won’t see or speak to our neighbours.

Enjoying friendships with our immediate neighbours but, knowing there were others that we never saw, The Big Lunch felt like the perfect excuse to bring everyone together. Initially we thought we should start small, however, our back gardens are not very accessible so we up-scaled our ambitions to a street party!

We live on a hill that posed some challenges (good for sledging, but not for trying to set-up a level table!) but a neighbouring street proved much more suitable. We opened up the event to the wider neighbourhood, inviting the residents of six nearby streets along and inviting everyone to planning meetings.


On the day, it was lovely to be part of such a collaborative team effort, everyone really brought something to it. There were some very longstanding residents who shared their memories of the street and then there was one family who had only just moved into their house the week before, so what a welcome party for them!

The children really did make their own entertainment and loved roaming the street without the fear of traffic. It reminded me of my own childhood when it was a lot more common to play on the street without adult supervision.

I sat with one elderly gentleman whom I’d never met before, he was quite deaf, a bit frail, and had lost his sense of taste. I really felt for him, especially with so many delicious things on offer, but it was great that he had this excuse to leave the house and sit in the sunshine.


The real benefits we’ve felt since include a greater sense of community and in building trust. It reduces the anonymity of some of your neighbours. Once you’ve chatted to someone over cake (or chocolate dipped strawberries, or green smoothie, or home made pakora!) then what you’ve actually done without noticing it is broken down some imaginary barriers.”

Check back soon for Lara’s top ten Big Lunch planning tips!

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Case Study, Scotland Case Study, Spreading the word, Stories
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Music and memories – Eleri’s story

January 8, 2015
Author: Gwion Thorpe

Dyma Eleri Rosier o Raglan yn rhannu ei profiad o cynllunio ei Chinio Mawr cyntaf yn Mehefin 2014, fel rhan o Gwyl Cerddoriaeth blynyddol ei Pentref, a’r effaith positif mae wedi cael ar yr holl cymuned, gan ysbrydoli pobl o bob oedran i cymeryd rhan ac i gymdeithasu.

Eleri Rosier from Raglan shares her experiences of organising her first Big Lunch in June 2014 as part of her village’s annual music festival andthe positive impact it has had on her community, inspiring people of all ages to get involved and to get to know each other.

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Case Study, Community, Planning, Stories, Top tips, Video, Wales, Wales Case Study
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New Year’s Resolutions and staying happy

January 5, 2015
Author: Emily Watts

Happy New Year! It’s that time of year again when we all turn our thoughts to making resolutions to make us Better Human Beings. I know I have a few things I’d like to do this year – eat better, get fitter, climb a few more (real and metaphorical) hills.


But I find it really hard – though in the depths of Winter it feels easy to make those resolutions  - to have the enthusiasm fade by mid-February and still find myself on the same path I was on when the tinsel was still up and Christmas dinner leftovers were still a possibility for lunch.

And I don’t know about you, but as I get older the pressure of not living up to those well-meant resolutions makes New Year a bit of a spectre. But, being both one who enjoys a good Christmas ghost story and someone who prefers to find a solution than wallow, I’d like to offer an alternative.

This year I’m going to choose.

I’m going to choose to eat well. I’m going to choose to go running in the early mornings and at the weekends. I’m going to choose to tackle those mountains with good grace and good spirit. And that tiny word change has left me feeling what New Year and resolutions are really all about – I’m hopeful again.

emily summit

The things you choose to do this year might be far different from mine, but I wish you all the best with them. And my only piece of advice is that you don’t have to set your sights on huge unmanageable tasks – if it makes you happier, then nothing is too small or insignificant.

Whether it’s choosing to haul yourself out of bed and pulling your trainers on  or taking the chance and organising a street party with your neighbours this summer, if it will take you towards happiness, go for it.

Emily x



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Ideas, Planning, Spreading the word
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Merry Christmas / Nadolig Llawen

December 23, 2014
Author: Gwion Thorpe

We are signing off now for Christmas but before we go we thought we’d leave you with this happy, festive message from our very own Santa.  Have a fab Christmas holiday and thanks for supporting The Big Lunch in 2014.

Ni’n gorffen am Nadolig nawr ond cyn i ni fynd dyma neges fach wrth ein Sion Corn ni! Joiwch eich Nadolig a diolch i chi gyd am eich cefnogaeth am Y Cinio Mawr yn 2014.

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England, Spreading the word, Video, Wales
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Spreading festive community spirit at Christmas Big Lunch

December 19, 2014
Author: Trudi Holden

Christmas cheer and a big helping of community spirit were served up last week at a special festive lunch for elderly residents in South Gloucestershire. The event was organised by the Chipping Sodbury Big Lunch committee, following a number of successful Big Lunches every June.

Chipping sodbury christmas big lunch

Pensioners who live alone – and may be unable to get out regularly or who are not members of any local groups – were invited to enjoy a buffet lunch of homemade soups, savouries, cakes and mince pies at the Old Grammar School Rooms.

They were treated to a performance by young singers from Raysfield Infants’ School and joined in some Christmas carols with Chipping Sodbury Baptist Church. There was a raffle of donated prizes and a visit by Father Christmas who handed out handmade treats courtesy of local a cooking school teacher.

Big Luncher Alexandra Womack said:

This was our first Christmas Big Lunch and we are really pleased with how well it went. We thought it was important to give elderly people in our community, who may find it difficult to come to our main event in the summer, a lunch of their own where they could meet new friends and be made to feel really special.

Some of our guests hadn’t been to a party in four years, some never get out, but because we arranged transport they were able to come and join us. There was a lovely festive atmosphere and we had lots of volunteers who took the time to talk to all our guests and made them feel very welcome.

elderly festive big lunch

The Christmas Big Lunch was funded by Waitrose’s Community Matters scheme as well as donations from local companies including Chipping Sodbury Motor Company, Hobbs House Bakery, Tesco and Marks and Spencers in Yate.

“We received lots of donations of cakes and many people were happy to give up their time to help,” added Alexandra. We are very grateful to everyone who helped us put on this memorable lunch which we hope has given some vulnerable and lonely people something to smile about this Christmas.”

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Case Study, Community, England, England Case Study, Sharing, Stories
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