Big Lunch organisers from all over Belfast and across Northern Ireland from Dungannon to Ballymena, came together at East Belfast Network Centre to get ready for The Big Lunch annual day for neighbours 2018.
In true Big Lunch style, the event was lively with everyone bringing something to the table sharing ideas and making new connections, whether to demonstrate a recipe, a game, decorative crafts, or bunting making. Young people were able to contribute to the planning – enjoying the fun as much as their parents, and everyone shared their Big Lunch 2018 plans and new ideas.
The Big Lunch is an annual get-together for neighbours, an idea from the Eden Project made possible by the National Lottery. Anyone can take part and enjoy the fun on Sunday 3 June or any other date that suits. Anyone interested can get their free starter pack via post or email at www.TheBigLunch.com .
There were a range of people attending the event, with those who have been hosting The Big Lunch in their neighbourhood since 2009 on hand to support those taking part for the first time.
Grainne McCloskey, Northern Ireland manager of Eden Project Communities said: “Bringing people together is at the heart of what we all do with The Big Lunch, and National Lottery funding is empowering people to deliver the change they want to see in their communities.
“The Big Lunch is the perfect way to kick start good conversations where we live,” Grainne said. “This event showed how much can be achieved when we come together and encourage each other to make positive change where we live.
“Lots of people tell us they would love to organise a Big Lunch street party but it feels like a big challenge to knock on a neighbour’s door. The pack we provide and the support of the network helps build that confidence and many find the organising is as much fun as the day itself. The new relationships with neighbours that are developed through the Big Lunch make all the difference when it really matters.”
“We have found that Big Lunch organisers are always glad they had the courage to get started on their first Big Lunch and wish they had done it sooner,” said Grainne. “So we would encourage everyone to take the leap, don’t be afraid, and get in touch with us if you need support and advice. You can keep it small and simple and it can be done on a shoestring – the BIG comes from the millions of people who join in on the big day. After all, people and conversation are the key ingredients.”
Grainne said for many people the main concern is that it will take too much time, but a Big Lunch can happen with minimal preparation and often the more impromptu Big Lunches are the most fun.
“We know that everyone has busy lives these days, and they are getting busier all the time, but that makes it even more important to stop everything for a day to just enjoy your own neighbourhood and get to know people better. “
Big Lottery Fund Northern Ireland chair Julie Harrison said: “Whether it’s two people or two hundred, sitting down together to eat and talk is important for individuals, families and communities. This is why we are supporting the Big Lunch, which provides the perfect opportunity for people to build connections, spark friendships and lay the foundations that enable communities to thrive.”
For more information on the Big Lunch Northern Ireland visit: https://www.facebook.com/TheBigLunchNorthernIreland/