WARNING: This post contains ‘selfies’!
June is normally the month that lots of people frantically start toning up their ‘beach body’ in preparation for the summer hols, but for me it’s a month of serious, unashamed gluttony. As the proud coordinator of The Big Lunch in Wales I get to spend the majority of June eating large quantities of party food. So, I was thrilled when Mark Hooper, founder of Indycube CIC, sent me a text to say that he’d set himself (and his members) the challenge of hosting a Big Lunch at a different IndyCube location every day for the first 2 weeks in June. Excellent!
So on Monday the 1st of June I found myself sharing a picnic halfway up a hill in the Rhondda Valley with an architect, a musician, a yoga teacher and an accountant, and 11 days later, after a culinary tour of the south Wales network, I’m tucking into a beast of a buffet in central Cardiff with my fellow Trade Street cubers – from Dermatologists and filmmakers to writers, publishers and designers. That’s the beauty of co-working spaces (and Big Lunches for that matter), you never know who you’re going to be sitting next to and what potential collaborations or connections you might make. But…as with any work environment, it’s easy to slip into the routine of walking straight to the computer, slipping the headphones on and getting our head down, which is why Mark saw The Big Lunch as a worthwhile business investment and, more importantly, as a way of (re)connecting people.
Mark is very passionate about the fact that Indycube isn’t about renting out desk space, it’s about connecting people and communities and fostering collaboration right across Wales, which is exactly what The Big Lunch is about. In Mark’s own words he wants to “change the way Wales does business. We’re a hugely connected Country; our communities are our strength; and I want Indycube to prove that you don’t need to go to the ‘big cities’ to succeed. It’s easy to co-work in cities, but it’s important to do it elsewhere”. Each Indycube Big Lunch reflected what’s great about the Big Lunch as a whole – each event was different, reflecting the particular culture, identity and ideas of the people and places we visited. Similarly, the smaller the event the better, because whilst large gatherings are often great fun, it’s the smaller, often simpler events where you get the chance to make real connections and have proper conversations with people – conversations that may lead to something. Accelerated Serendipity Mark calls it. Or as the title of this blog suggests, putting the time into building relationships during the good times leads to people being more likely to help and support each other during the challenging times. That’s as true for co-working spaces as it is society in general, as our Big Lunch research reveals each year. PS. Did you have or attend a Big Lunch this year? If so PLEASE fill in our simple survey.
Whilst each Indycube Big Lunch was different, there was one common theme – that everyone felt it should be something they do more often. To take a break from our computer screens and share lunch together. Simple really. It’s a great way to welcome new people into the fold and cultivating more opportunities for accelerated serendipity! Thank you to everyone who made the time to enjoy an Indycube Big Lunch. I really hope it’s something that continues to happen and helps the network grow.
Did you have or attend a Big Lunch this year? If so PLEASE fill in our simple survey. Thanks!
This year, we’ve seen Big Lunches take place in a whole variety of locations; from streets, community centres and parks, to beaches, green houses and even a giant hot air balloon!
In June, The Foundry Agency added their twist to The Big Lunch idea and held its first Big Business Lunch at its city centre office in Liverpool.
Inspired by The Big Lunch’s simple idea to share food and conversation, guests from local businesses in the Ropewalks area of Liverpool gathered and attended the afternoon event.
In the spirit of community, the integrated creative agency hosted its Big Business Lunch to promote friendship and collaboration with its nearby business neighbours.
The event was held in the agency’s Liverpool office and the team worked hard to transform their basement in to a lunch-friendly event space.
In keeping with the Big Lunch theme, tables were laid with gingham tablecloths, the agency’s colours were used for the bunting and invitations, while an old school record player kept guests entertained during the afternoon!
Instead of buying pre-prepared food, the team made an effort to whip up some homemade delights, including sushi, brownies, bruschetta, flapjacks and savoury muffins.
Businesses in attendance included Move Publishing, Studio Mashbo, HIT publications, Mencap Liverpool and the Essential Journal.
As the guests were leaving, The Foundry Agency put its creative talent in to action by creating plant pot mementos for the guests. The plant pots included soil and sunflower seeds so businesses could brighten up their offices and guests were asked to let the team know how tall it grows.
Since the event, the businesses have reconnected on Twitter and The Foundry Agency are looking forward to future events.
Hannah Fowler, from The Foundry Agency says:
“We loved the idea of the Eden Project’s Big lunch and wanted to host something which would bring our local business community together.
“The afternoon was a massive success, not only did we get to test the team’s culinary skills, but we met some great people from the local business community who we ordinarily wouldn’t have connected with.
“All the businesses who came along thought it was a brilliant idea and a great way for employees to step away from their desks and meet new people. Finding time to meet others from the business community can be difficult, so the Big Business Lunch was the perfect platform to achieve this in a fun, enjoyable way.
“We’ve even discussed the possibility of meeting every month or so to catch up, share ideas and network further.We hope we can carry on this tradition and invite even more local businesses to next year’s event!”
Phoenix Futures has been helping individuals, families and communities affected by drug and alcohol problems for more than 40 years. They run prison, community and residential services across the UK and help many recovering individuals gain back their confidence in the local community. Phoenix Futures wanted to host their own Big Lunches in order to allow staff and service users to primarily have fun with their neighbours, as well as allowing service users to experience inclusion in a community event. For many, this is the biggest challenge and hosting Big Lunches has helped to build confidence and make positive connections in the local area. Most importantly, the lunches have allowed individuals to take ownership of a project and demystify what goes on in services.
Georgina from Phoenix Futures explains: “We held nine Big Lunches in total across the country in Scotland, Derby, Trafford, London, Chorley, Sheffield, Preston, Hampshire and Wirral. Service Users used their own Phoenix Futures and Big Lunch toolkits to organise their big days!”
Helen Brewin, Trafford Recovery Services’ Service Manager, said: “We thought hosting a Big Lunch event would be an excellent opportunity to get to know our neighbours and other providers in the sector and more importantly host an informal day where everyone can be more relaxed and just get to know each other including service users’ families. People who enter our services have been through very tough times and simple acts of community, friendship and fun like these can be incredibly beneficial to their recovery.
Everyone said how much they enjoyed the day and we think it’s important to open services like ours up to the public so they can see what sort of help is available for people with drug and alcohol problems and there’s no need to be afraid to ask for support. Every year Phoenix helps over 20,000 people into treatment and it is important that we continue to help building better futures for people who have lost their way with drugs and alcohol.”
Has your Big Lunch helped people in your community gain confidence or integrated them better into the local area? Share your story with us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
“We created our own Phoenix Futures and Big Lunch toolkit to help the recovery services organise their big day!”
Complete The Big Lunch survey for a chance to win one of two fantastic prizes!
Prize 1 consists of the following, for two adults:
Prize 2 consists of the following:
Cultivation Street is a national campaign which rewards communities for great examples of their neighbourhood gardening skills.
Headed by TV gardener David Domoney, the campaign is looking for the most inspirational neighbourhoods across the UK. The aim is to see more neighbours getting together to transform their streets by changing their front gardens into little oases of creativity!
Creating beautiful gardens isn’t just about the end result – it’s the feel-good journey. It promotes respect for the community across all ages, teaches our children about nature and creates a space for everyone to enjoy and benefit from.
Helen Hebden, from Toxteth, Liverpool and winner of last year’s Transformation Street category said: “Our transformation has been a huge success, bringing positive publicity including our award from ‘Cultivation Street’. Three years ago, when one of the terraces was demolished, leaving a third of an acre of rubble and dust, it was raked over and sown with wildflower seeds. Once the newly refurbished houses are occupied we will have new neighbours, many of them attracted to the area because of our beautiful wildflower garden!”
And in Polperro, Cornwall, front doors often open immediately onto the street without a pavement, and side access tends to be via cobbled paths or from slate steps shared with neighbours. So the villagers decided to add their own “flowery loveliness” to brighten up the winding, narrow streets.
Jo Kenrick, Marketing Director at Homebase, says: “We see plenty of research that shows that people who live in friendly neighbourhoods are happier, but modern life means that often we simply don’t get the opportunity to get to know the people who live close to us.”
Heading up the campaign, David Domoney stresses the importance of this project by stating: “I believe gardening has the power to bring people together.”
Cultivation Street is looking for more entries to their fantastic competition! Enter with your neighbours and transform your front gardens together.
The competition is open to streets with three or more consecutive front gardens, as well as school gardens, community gardens and other neighbourhood gardening projects.
It’s free to enter, with £20,000 of National Garden Gift Vouchers up for grabs! There are 12 categories to choose from, so get cracking and get digging! The deadline for the competition is Sunday 2 August. Click here to find out how you can enter!
On Sunday millions of people lunched with their neighbours – a big big thank you to everyone who hosted or went along to a lunch in their community!
We thought it would be nice for all Big Lunchers to hear about the goings on across the UK on Sunday, so here are some highlights from the day:
Gill in Par, Cornwall organised a massive cream tea for the local community. One so big, that tea and scones were served to more than 700 people, beating the world record of 600! The scones were served in the traditional Cornish way, with the jam first!
A little feel-good therapy occurred in Hove at Hannah’s Big Lunch with a spot of laughter yoga to start off the day – making for some amusing photos and a positive street party feel!
Barbara in Sale, Manchester kept her local community’s tradition alive with the crowing of the rose queen! This was accompanied by a yarn bombing of a tree that had been woven by a number of neighbours up and down the street. The idea represented the unity of everyone in the area.
A sustainable idea and a yummy treat too, Sahira in Dunstable hosted a smoothie making bike at her Big Lunch, whipping up some delicious and healthy drinks for everyone!
In Wales they saw all sorts of Big Lunches from a beach party in Aberporth to a dog show in Flintshire! As well as Cerys from Cardiff who invited the prospective buyers of her house to her street’s Big Lunch so they could get to know their neighbours before they moved in! – a lovely idea indeed!
Lyn, Amy and Eugenie organised their first ever Big Lunch this year in Rutherglen, just outside Glasgow. They brought people together in the local park, where the group of ladies have plans to restore and develop an old allotment site into a new community garden. Kilt wearing pipers were there to welcome people to the park on the day and the occasional shower didn’t spoil all the feasting and fun!
Northern Ireland was home to a monumental Big Lunch on Sunday, with both sides of an interface in East Belfast joining for lunch. 700 people came together for this cross-community day organised by two ladies from either side.
Last but certainly not least, we loved hearing about a Big Lunch in a Hot Air Balloon in Tavistock, a zumba-loving dog stealing the show in Birmingham, a sumo wrestling match in Beckton and a bit of overly competitive tug-of-war! Plus tarantulas who came to lunch in Longbenton and a choir in Somerset who sung about food and friendship!
The team thoroughly enjoyed popping along to some of your Big Lunches and witnessing the hard work that had been put in to create such a brilliant day for neighbours! Thanks for having us and bring on 2016!
We’d love to see what you got up to on your Big Lunch day! Send your photos over to email@example.com and stories to firstname.lastname@example.org
This week marks Volunteers’ Week, an annual celebration of the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK and it is perfect timing to thank all our Big Lunchers who volunteer their time to bring together their neighbours and help build stronger communities.
The Big Lunch can be a great chance to volunteer in your community and give back directly to the people who are location wise, closest to you!
If you are planning a Big Lunch, you are already giving your own time back to your neighbourhood. If you are unable to host one yourself, how about hosting an activity or workshop at your closest Big Lunch? – it is a good way to offer something to attendees and make great use of your skills or talents!
Some Big Lunchers take their volunteering a step further and use their event for a chance to fundraise for a charity of their choice, here’s some inspiration of how you could do something similar! Fundraising can be a great way to get rid of any unwanted items at a donation stall or directly to support any attendees.
Our Big Lunchers share how volunteering fits into their Big Lunch:
Pauline McCabe is hosting her third Big Lunch at Heron Corn Mill in Cumbria for volunteers as part of National Volunteer’s Week. The volunteers spend a morning working together at the mill before sitting down to a Ploughman’s Lunch, which is an opportunity for everyone to chat to one another as they pass food up and down the tables.
Pauline says, “We live in a very rural and remote area and it can be quite tricky to get to the mill as we’re not well served by public transport. The Big Lunch makes a real difference and allows us to make the mill the centre of the community like it used to be. It’s a great way of getting people together!
Wendy Lansdown is a Trustee at Abbey People, a charity that helps the people of Abbey, Cambridge. They are hosting their fourth Big Lunch and use it as a chance to encourage more people to volunteer in conjunction with Volunteers’ Week. Volunteers at her Big Lunch earn Time Credits, a local currency that rewards people for their time helping their community and that can be exchanged for local attractions in the UK.
Feeling inspired? It’s not too late to get involved and bring your community together for your own Big Lunch. For more info and to request your FREE Big Lunch planning pack, which contains invitations, posters, seeds and stickers, please visit www.thebiglunch.com or call 0845 850 8181.
Yes, we are counting down the minutes, hours and days until Big Lunch day! (can you tell we are a little over-excited?!)
We thought what better way to show your excitement than a #streetselfie!
To mix things up and make it just a little bit more interesting, how about taking part in the #streetselfie challenge! A series of photo challenges to get you really in the mood to feed that community spirit and make the most of your Big Lunch day!
Big Lunch bonus points for ticking off any of the following:
Get going – we can’t wait to see them on the day!
Are you ready to organise a Big Lunch in just 7 hours? The race is on and we are here to get you pumped up and sprinting to the finish line!
Don’t worry about closing off your road, instead host your Big Lunch in your back garden, park or a neighbours.
Speak to your neighbours as soon as possible and see what they think of the idea. Are they enthused by the thought and would they be available to attend? If they are happy to come along, ask for their names and jot down their house or flat number so you have a good idea of how many people are coming.
If your neighbours are onboard, start to ask them what they might be able to bring along to the event. Can they lend some furniture for people to sit on? Do they have a fun game? – get neighbours to write down what they will bring so you can send a reminder note through doors to ask people to bring along what they’ve promised to.
A Big Lunch needs food! Firstly, find a table – you can use one from your house or a neighbours and join them together to make a long one for everyone to sit round. Get creative, ironing boards make great impromptu side/serving tables!
Secondly, the grub! At this stage, it doesn’t matter too much if you have more of one thing than the other, just ask everyone who is attending if they could give a rough idea of what sort of thing they are bringing; a main, a salad, a dessert, or drinks. It will give you an idea of what to expect on the table!
Spruce up the venue a little! Do you have any flowers in your garden you could pick? Add them to a glass and place on the table as a summery centre piece. Or how about a colourful table cloth you have lying around? That would work wonderfully to add that street party feel.
Cut out square pieces of paper and write an attendee’s name on to each one. Add a little sellotape (double-sided) to each piece of paper and hand out to guests as they come along. This way it will be easy to know everyone’s name and mingle!
Put a sign at the entrance of your Big Lunch venue so everyone knows where your event is being hosted. Remember to add a little note saying ‘Welcome residents of _____Road!’ so everyone feels a little loved! Lastly, put on your most summery frock or shirt and get ready to enjoy a day with your neighbours!
We received a wonderful collection of creative ideas as to what the Gruffalo would eat at a Big Lunch! Thanks to everyone who entered the competition, we really enjoyed looking through all your magical creations!
Without further ado, our Gruffalo competiton winner is Laura Harmsworth from Reading – congratulations Laura! And a big well done to your daughters for their delightful dishes!
Here are the girls with their Feast for a Beast collection:
How about a slice of Owl Pie anyone?
Or maybe you are more of a Worm Mud Pie kinda guy?
We look forward to seeing photos of the Gruffalo making an appearance at your Big Lunch! Remember you can send us your photos at any point to: email@example.com