Forum Housing Association is a true Big Lunch veteran and this year on both Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th of June 2011 their projects in Ellesmere Port and Birkenhead took part in The Big Lunch.
Forum Housing Association has been a specialist provider of supported accommodation to young people aged 16-25 for over 40 years – creating opportunities for better futures.
In previous years Forum Housing’s Amy Butterworth connected with Merseyside Police the local council, and fire service as well as a number of voluntary bodies some contributed financially and some were there on the day.
Forum were building relationships at the time with Police using the opportunity to bring the police and young people together to reduce the barriers and get questions answered.
Coming together to organise and deliver the fantastic Big Lunch event at Market Wells Courtyard, Birkenhead. The hugely successful day brought members of the local community together to meet, greet, share, eat, sing, dance, play and laugh.
Staff, residents and the community joined together and enjoyed activities, food and sunshine. Young people from the Association supplied the entertainment and helped out with the catering and refreshments for the event.
It was a packed day, full of fun with children enjoying the activites and freedom.
“It was great to see a variety of partners, friends, family and neighbours from the community all coming together for a day that can only cement friendships” said Amy.
You can get a taste of the event on Wirral TV:
Wirral Tv, is a community TV station, producing short films about different events and businesses on the Wirral, as well as themes of interest to local people. They also produce print publications and offer training to local individuals.
If you live or work with a Housing Association or a support group and would like to have a Big Lunch this year get in touch today for more information, we’d love to talk to you: firstname.lastname@example.org
Since the first Big Lunch in 2009 we have had one every year and even an extra Christmas Big Lunch in 2010. Each Big Lunch has been different but still brought the community together. For our first Big Lunch we didn’t really know what we were doing but me and a neighbour took a risk and the next thing we knew we had 200 people out in the street eating, drinking, playing and chatting.
Our Big Lunch—‘Lunch with the Pope’ because it takes place on Pope Road —has become a regular event in our community’s calendar. It’s an opportunity for the neighbours of Pope Road, friends and family to catch up, share food, sit around and relax together. The events create a shared experience for all neighbours which means we have something to refer to in conversation with one another or something to share with our friends.
In 2010 we secured some funding and were able to put on activities and extras for the residents. The event was much larger than 2009 which helped to include people from the wider community. Although the lunch was a huge success many of the residents felt that we had lost sight of what the original idea was; to have lunch with your neighbours. Since 2010 we have scaled back the street party to its original format and this year’s ‘Lunch with the Pope’ took hardly any effort to get off the ground and was still a fantastic day for all.
The children that live in the road always invite their friends along and talk in anticipation of The Big Lunch months before it takes place. This year many of the children ran their own entertainment providing free face painting and transfer tattoos for their friends. It just shows that anyone can contribute to the day successfully.
Four events later many of the residents know each other better, strike up a conversation with people they recognise and feel proud to be part of something that is pretty unique to the area.
I would encourage everyone to have a Big Lunch. It really doesn’t take much effort—you just need to work together to organise it.
If you would like to share your story on The Big Lunch blog, send it along with a few photos to email@example.com
As summer draws to an end, food growing might not be something that you’d usually think of starting now, but nature is more than happy to push on through to winter and beyond with lots of veg varieties that can be grown in the approaching season.
Our friends at Seed Pantry are on hand with some autumn growing tips!
Here are five varieties that are easy to grow from seed on your window sill in a pot or outside in the garden veg patch:
1. Pak Choi – this fast growing mild flavoured veg is also referred to as bok choy and Chinese celery cabbage. With a flavour that is a cross between cabbage and spinach it is ideal to grow in pots or the veg patch around the home, used in salads (as baby leaf) or cooked in stir fries and as a side veg alternative to winter greens. A must have for urban spaces!
2. Spring Onions (winter hardy) – are easy to grow all year round, try growing a window box full of them. With its fresh onion flavours they are excellent for adding to salads, stir-fries and mashed potatoes!
3. Winter lettuce – can provide colourful green leaves all year round given the right conditions and will be a joy to harvest during the winter months.
4. Spicy leaves – these include: oriental mustards, rocket, mizuna and sorrel all providing fast growing succulent green leaves well into winter and used in many dishes.
5. Rainbow chard – it literally looks like a rainbow with wonderfully bright stalks and shiny leaves. They are great in salads or cooked with a little butter.
To grow them, you just need a few pots / containers with compost or a garden veg patch and you’ll be eating your own produce with 4 to 6 weeks. You can get a limited box of these 5 varieties from Seed Pantry – look for the Mini Autumn Veg Patch.
Village SOS is another exciting community initiative funded by Big Lottery Fund (BIG), set up in 2010 to kick start a rural revival across the UK. It aims to inspire people in rural villages – many of which face challenges such as declining local amenities, lack of employment opportunities and rural isolation – to get involved and make a difference in their communities.
BIG has awarded grants worth £4.5m to ten rural villages across the UK to develop community enterprises that will breathe new life into their local area. Six of these villages have had their stories filmed for a primetime BBC One television series, Village SOS, currently being aired at 8pm on Wednesdays.
Alongside the TV series, BIG has launched the Village SOS Active Learning Campaign, a resource that will help enterprising rural communities inspired by the Village SOS programme to start up their own community enterprises.
How it works
Village SOS Active offers a range of tools, advice and information to help people bring their ideas for community enterprises to life, including an online community network where people can discuss ideas and share solutions to common issues.
The campaign is also providing a number of learning events across the UK and a dedicated national advice line, 0845 434 9123, where rural communities can receive expert advice on developing ideas for and running their enterprises.
Click here to watch videos and find out more
To celebrate the Eden Projects’ 10th anniversary, NoFit State Circus - the leading large-scale contemporary circus company in the UK - have produced a fantastic show called Labyrinth, currently being performed at Eden.
The show is packed full of breath-taking aerial acrobatics, circus, music, dance and drama and is a great night out for all the family. Created to be performed exclusively at Eden, the show takes place all around the site and the audience are invited to move around for different parts of the performance.
The show is now entering its final week and the last performance will take place on Monday 29th August If you live in Cornwall or you’re there for your holidays, make sure you get to see the magic before it ends. Check out the Eden Website for more information and to book tickets.
When The Big Lunch joined The Glens Vintage Family Fun day in Blaney’s field, Cushendall, Co Antrim.
Families flocked to this now firmly established Heart of the Glens festival favourite and it was great to share the fantastic community spirit and join in the fun and games.
The Glens Vintage Club are building relations with the Ballymoney Old Vehicle Club as part of Rural Community Network’s Rural Enabler Programme which part funded the day.
The Chair of Glens Vintage Club said; “We are delighted to have the support of Ballymoney Old Vehicle Club and appreciated the help we got on the day with car parking and stewarding and look forward to enjoying more events like this in the future.”
Orla Black, Local Rural enabler lead in the Glens said;
“The Rural Enabler Programme is aimed at supporting rural areas to peace build. The Glens Vintage Club and Ballymoney Old Vehicle Club have worked hard to promote their commitment to good relations, The programme is funded under Peace III through the Special EU Programmes Body and is aimed at assisting rural communities to
develop ways to deal with the things that still divide us in Northern Ireland and the Border Counties of Ireland.
The work between the Ballymoney Old Vehicle Club and the Glens Vintage Club is a step towards bringing rural people together from opposing backgrounds, hopefully lifting the barriers that have prevented people from working together and attending each other’s events in the past. Encouraging people to visit areas where they would not have felt comfortable with visiting in the past.”
Ballymoney Vintage car enthusiast Lorna spoke with us at the event and said “ the love of vintage vehicles and the passion we share for them is what matters, it’s bringing us together and we are raising loads of money for charity, This is a great day, Arthur (Glens Vintage club Chair) is so supportive of what we do, we are delighted to be able to help out here today and enjoy the spirit of the day.”
With free face painting, pony rides and bouncy castle bliss the children barely had time to fit in the mini digger challenge. Jealousy set in when the toy tractor trials began and The Big Lunch had no wheels but we’ll be better prepared next year.
The display by the local Fire Brigade was very well received and what a great way to reach out and message families on the need for a fire escape plan. St Johns ambulance attended and there was wood sculpturing, tractor treshing, straw baling and so much more.
As the fun day came to an end and we’d had our big lunch of yummy home made broth, sandwiches and tea, we said our goodbyes to new found friends and people we hadn’t seen for ages. The clubs prepared for the rally through the local village and the rest of us went ahead to meet them with a cheer as we joined the rest of the community in the Heart of the Glens.
As the UK contemplates why rioting and unrest took hold with such force and speed on the streets of London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham and Leeds, many people face not only a clean-up of their high streets, businesses and homes, but also the recovery and restoration of their communities.
We can speculate about what motivated the small minority of rioters and looters and the reasoning behind their actions, however perhaps what is more important is focusing on the demonstrations of community solidarity this week.
More than ever this is a time for communities to pull together, stand together and work together.
In May The Big Lunch launched to press in Wandsworth with a raft of celebrities including, Boris Johnson, Barbara Windsor, Levi Roots and Anthony Worrall Thompson, coming together with Wandsworth Big Lunchers, council members, local schools and organisations at Clapham Junction’s George Shearing Community Centre to raise awareness of The Big Lunch locally.
Today, Clapham Junction is still reeling from the attack. Emma Clark, a Big Lunch organiser from Clapham Junction who attended the launch knows that their community spirit is far from beaten.
Emma said “Only a few days have past and we’ve already dusted ourselves off”. Emma’s Lavender Hill Big Lunch on Sunday 5th June raised money for Street Kids, a local charity founded by Duncan Mundell – owner of Party Superstores on Lavender Hill which was sadly burnt down in an arson attack during the riots.
Emma recalled that on Monday night Clapham Junction looked like a hurricane had hit and as cars sped past filled with the contents of Clapham’s stores. As local young people came out to defend their area, it dawned on her that it wasn’t local people trashing their community. The next morning this became even more apparent as a heart warming 500 local residents—brandishing their brooms—came together to clean up their streets. People have added their words of support to the boards that replaced Debenhams and TK Maxx’s kicked in windows through out the week
Clapham Junction’s community has not given in; instead they are looking forward to a full line-up of community events in the autumn including another street party and a literary festival. Check out their website for the latest clean up efforts and a diary of events.
This is just one of the many stories that we’ve heard about communities pulling together to overcome the horrific incidents that have taken place this week. Please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your own experiences with us.
22 July saw one of the late Big Lunches that have been taking place in Scotland after the big day on 5 June. Family Action in Rogerfield and Easterhouse (FARE) in the east end of Glasgow held a massive event for families in the area and its working partners.
Over 700 people attended the GALA day, including local housing associations, youth groups and representatives from Glasgow City Council with the weather providing a rare sunny day this summer for the face painting, party games and live entertainment that were planned.
FARE was started in 1989 by local people with the aim of “enhancing the lives of the inhabitants of Rogerfield and Easterhouse” . The approach was for locals to work together to provide services to meet the social, emotional and physical needs of people in the area. FARE originally worked out of just one room within a flat in the neighbourhood and finally moved into a brand new, purpose-built building in June 2010. FARE’s new HQ provides fantastic facilities to local residents including a crèche, an I.T. suite, games console room, a recording studio and a community café. The building offers the opportunity for residents of all ages and backgrounds to come together and integrate.
FARE runs a number of projects that seek to capture and develop the energy, enthusiasm and talents of local people and continue to provide opportunities to enhance the lives of people from the community and beyond. Projects include workshops on territorialism and local history, skill-building residential courses and confidence-building trips and a mini Olympics.
For more information visit the FARE website at www.fare-scotland.org
Lucy Pearce is a lot of things to a lot of people, to her three young children she’s loving creative mama, to her bank manager she’s freelance writer and contributing editor of JUNO magazine (a soulful UK-based natural parenting magazine), to her neighbours she’s “yer one with a nice line in floaty hippy skirts” and to us she’s a Big Lunch family member and friend.
Lucy got secretly inspired by The Big Lunch when her mum told her about her own preparations a couple of years back. She recalls her mother telling her about knocking on the two hundred-odd doors of the neighbours who live on her street in Dorchester, Dorset.
“ ‘Her next mad cap plan” I thought! Then she started chattering on about Tim Smit. She had that sparkle in her eyes. ‘Oh no, she’s really hooked!’ I thought. You see, for her, Tim Smit is in the same league of super swoony, save-the-world-and-make-your-dreams-come-true hunks as Paul McCartney. She makes the five-hour-round-trip to the Eden Project every couple of months. She thinks he is wonderful. Everything he touches is gold. So I made supportive daughter noises, and let her get on with annoying her neighbours!”
But when Lucy moved into her own family house on a housing estate on the south coast of Ireland and found herself, after a year, still not knowing the faces of most of the other inhabitants, let alone their names, she phoned her mum to find out more about The Big Lunch. And she began organising a simple community picnic on common land at the heart of her estate, inviting her neighbours to join The Big Lunch.
“Ireland has been through a dark couple of years, with people losing jobs, businesses and houses. we’ve also suffered a couple of heart-breaking local tragedies. Our community holds visible reminders of the depression, such as the ghost estate next door to ours, where half of the houses are boarded up having never been sold. I felt I needed to do something to pull us all together for fun, celebration and to make it feel like a more vibrant, connected community rather than lots of independent units who happened to live side by side.”
The Big Lunch first heard from Lucy when computer said NO! And our Online UK registration system refused to send an organiser pack to the wilds of Shanagarry, Co Cork. Since then we’ve caught up with Lucy and delighted in her regular blogs which include themes such as the trepidation felt when approaching neighbours for the first time, Big Lunch Love and friendship and ideas for sharing and entertaining our children.
The Big Lunch loves Lucy’s blog and perhaps you will too. We delight in her approach to life and she has plenty of sustainable thoughts and ideas, so each month we’ll catch up with Lucy and share some Big Lunch related love.
But for now here’s a taste of Lucy’s blog
And if you can’t wait a month to hear from her just visit any of these pages and register to follow her blog.
If you are sad to have missed out on this year’s Big Lunch or just can’t wait until the next one, never fear, another opportunity to make friends and build community spirit in your neighbourhood is fast approaching! Make a Difference Day is the UK’s biggest day of volunteering when thousands of people across the country give time to improve their local community. This year it is on Saturday 29 October, with activities a week before and after that date.
This year Make a Difference Day is combating feelings of loneliness and isolation and aiming to make the UK a happier and friendlier place to live. Volunteering is a brilliant way to reach out to groups who might feel marginalised by society or do not have regular opportunities to socialise. Hardest hit groups include the elderly, homeless people, and people with disabilities, but anyone can feel lonely and appreciate the thought and care of a volunteer.
Make a Difference Day also provides volunteers themselves with the chance to meet new people, have fun and become part of an active and inclusive community. Last year a whopping 70,000 volunteers took part in over 2,000 activities, ranging from hosting a tea party at a local day care centre, to renovating a homeless shelter or teaching people how to use the internet.
If you want to organise a Make a Difference Day activity for your community make sure you email email@example.com or phoning Freephone 0800 284 533 to get hold of your free resources . There’s a Handbook and six ‘How-to’ guides full of inspiration and advice, plus Action Packs with t-shirts, certificates and chocolate for the hard-working volunteers. Check out www.csv.org.uk/difference to find out more.