The Big Lunch

What will you bring to the table? Big Lunch badge The Big Lunch

How many of us have heard about the Big Lunch? Sounds interesting, doesn’t it. Community engagement worker for Edinburgh, Aleks, heard about the idea from a colleague, Lara, who has been involved with this UK-wide project for the last 4 years and is now on her way to organising the fourth lunch in her local area in Edinburgh. The date for this year’s Big Lunch is June 18th, so to get you inspired to organise your own event, Aleks thought she would find out more...

Let’s first find out what the Big Lunch is all about. Well, it’s a very simple idea from the Eden Project as part of their Communities project and is funded by the National Lottery. The aim is to get as many people as possible across the whole of the UK to have lunch with their neighbours annually on a Sunday in June in a simple act of community, friendship and fun.

A Big Lunch can be anything from a small gathering in a garden, driveway, or park to a larger party with trestle tables down the middle of your street. It can be outdoors (weather-permitting!) but it could quite easily take place in your village hall or community centre, and in this case, you don’t have to worry about the Scottish weather!

There is an official Big Lunch date every year but that may not always suit so you can hold your event at any time you like. In 2016, more than seven million people took part in The Big Lunch at over 90,000 events in gardens, streets, driveways, schools, community halls and more. 

Lara has organised three Big Lunch Street Parties to date, each attended by around a hundred local people, with another one planned for June 2017.

So how did Lara get things started?

"I got chatting to my next door neighbour about how nice it would be to get to know our neighbours better, and that was the beginnings of our plan to organise our own 'Big Lunch and Street Party'. We delivered flyers to local households in the neighbourhood, and got neighbours to volunteer as ‘Stewards’ for crowd control, first aiders (thankfully not needed on the day, but good to have), and got some folk to volunteer to help with set-up, and take-down (tidying and recycling). On the day, neighbours were simply asked to bring what they could: tables, chairs, food to share, their own cutlery/plates and glasses, and anything else that might be fun - we’ve had hoola hoops, face painting, fancy dress, scooters, chalk drawing and more. A very family-friendly event, attended by all ages.

We went large from the outset, but it’s also possible to start small, perhaps with a barbeque in your back garden, or a picnic in your local green space. The Big Lunch is a great excuse to bring people together, and as a result I feel like I’ve got to know my neighbours better, and it has improved our sense of community, and been a lot of fun! I would definitely recommend it."

There are plenty of suggestions on how to organise your Big Lunch on the Eden Project website.

There, you will find lots of information to get you going:

    • Selecting a venue
    • Picking a date
    • Deciding who you want to come along (your neighbours in the street you live in, your village)
    • Planning the food
    • Decorations
    • Music

You can also request a free Big Lunch pack. It’s full of handy tips, information and fun resources like stickers, decoration templates and games as well as invites and posters for you to use to advertise your event.

And if you are not quite ready to organise your own event, but you wanted to go along to one, find a Big Lunch near you.

Whether you are organising or attending, hope your Big Lunch is full of great company, good food and may the sun shine brightly!