The Big Lunch has been running since 2009 and is a one-day get together for neighbours. It is founded on a simple idea that the best way to bring neighbours, streets and even entire communities together is to share food and conversation around the same table.
Big lunches can be large or small and take place anywhere, at anytime and obviously fun plays a big part as well. Many events include activities such as music, table games, making and street art and even dancing, sprint races and sometimes tug-of-war too. In the street, in a garden, a local park or a community venue – you could hold a Big Lunch event anywhere people can easily get together to share lunch and conversation.
Research by the Big Lunch shows that people actually remain in touch with their new friends after big lunches and often undertake community activities together afterwards:
- 82 per cent of participants felt closer to their neighbours as a result of the Big Lunch.
- 88 per cent of people met new people at the event.
- 82 per cent of participants had actually kept in touch with people they had met at previous lunches.
Jennifer Cooper is using a Big Lunch event to celebrate the 140th birthday of her street. Jennifer says: “It’s a great get-together, giving everyone in the street a chance to know each other a bit better and have lots of fun. It has proved to be a great ice-breaker. I’ve lived on this street for more than 30 years but until we started our Big Lunches, I knew very few people by name or even to nod to. Now I know lots and it’s a pleasure to see people greeting each other and pass the time of day.
If anyone wants to start a Big Lunch of their own, I would say, take a deep breath and just go for it. Invite people to a meeting beforehand, so there’s not just you. My experience is that people will have good ideas to make the day go well. You can keep it as simple as you like, or go for a more adventurous time. On the day, whatever happens, just go with it and enjoy yourselves. On our 2nd Big Lunch, it poured with rain and we just found ourselves dancing away under our umbrellas, regardless of the weather.”
Despite the focus of big lunch activities being Sunday 1 June by no means do all events have to take place on that day. In 2012, many events took place as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics. So this year the perfect time to hold a Big Lunch event could be during other parts of the summer. For example, during Wimbledon, the Football World Cup (in June and July) or during the Commonwealth Games (in July and August).
Free materials, ideas, decoration tips and general advice can be found on the Big Lunch website at www.biglunch.com