The Big Lunch is an annual event run by the Eden Project and funded by the National Lottery, which aims to bring millions of people across the country together to share food and get to know each other better. Every year, over 6 million people take to their streets, gardens and neighbourhoods to join in for a few hours of community, friendship and fun on 1 and 2 June. This year, volunteers from the Big Lunch team visited Portsmouth as part of a community walk to raise awareness of the event and the importance of fighting social isolation.
The Big Lunch community walk arrived in Portsmouth last week as part of a 17-day UK wide journey across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales from 17 May to the 2 June. Eight walkers set out on a community-focused walk to learn about collaborative projects and neighbourhood activities across the country, meeting and chatting with the general public and inviting everyone to join The Big Lunch on the first weekend in June. Walkers Laura Graham and Carole Wright visited Portsmouth, one of the 17 towns and cities they visited in the 17 days.
Jacky Charman of housing association Radian met the walkers and introduced them to local residents, community projects and businesses to discuss the power of community at the John Pounds Centre.
‘It’s been fantastic to welcome the walkers to Portsmouth and show them the sights,’ said Jacky Charman, ‘from Mick’s Monster Burger Van to the Spinnaker Tower. What we really want is to get everyone here talking, connecting and sharing so it was great to hear from Carole and Laura who got everyone really excited about the idea of holding their own Big Lunches around Portsmouth.’
Walker Laura Graham from Northampton was impressed at the level of energy and enthusiasm she encountered during her Portsmouth visit.
‘It was lovely to see and feel how enthusiastic Portsmouth residents are about the idea of a Big Lunch,’ Laura said.
‘A Big Lunch can be any size or format as long as it’s about all kinds of people connecting with each other – the people of Portsmouth have really embraced that idea and I’m excited to see their Big Lunches!”
Earlier this year The Big Lunch released a OnePoll survey of over 4,000 people that found almost three quarters (72%) of the UK population don’t feel they know their neighbours well and 1 in 5 don’t even know their neighbours names.
Peter Stewart Executive Director Eden Project explained the importance to the Big Lunch team of improving local community in places like Portsmouth.
‘Our team of walkers are celebrating the good stuff out there and want to get more Big Lunches going to feed community spirit on a mass scale. Our report showed that connections in our neighbourhoods are under attack, but sharing food at a Big Lunch brings everyone together and it’s fun – you don’t need any better excuse than that!’
Local resident and community organiser Clare Seek told S&C on Facebook, ‘We’ve done these in our local park in previous years, although with ‘Great Get Togethers’ and sometimes it’s been a bit organised event, and sometimes it’s just been a note on the park gate and a FB post to say we’re taking our tea to the park on a certain day, come join us. Every single time it’s resulted in us connecting with at least one more local household.’