23 February 2018
  • Big Lottery Fund announces a £7.8million 4 year joint initiative with the Eden Project to bring people together and help build stronger communities across the UK
  • Funding follows research [1] showing that while 65% of people report strong community spirit in their local area, very few say the same for the UK as a whole, and even less are actively taking part
  • The Big Walk and The Big Lunch will bring together people in towns, villages and cities across the UK to build connections between communities
  • National Lottery funding will help to reduce the cost of disconnected communities, estimated at £32 billion a year [2].
Nutbourne Road's Big Lunch, Worthing.

The Big Lottery Fund has today announced that it is committing almost £8 million of National Lottery funding to a four year joint initiative with the Eden Project.  Designed to bring people together and shine a light on the strength of communities across the UK, the new funding will support two flagship events - The Big Walk and The Big Lunch - which will connect over 10 million people to their local communities.

The Big Lunch, the largest gathering of neighbours in the UK, and The Big Walk, aim to improve the happiness and well-being of people across the UK by helping to build stronger and better connected communities.

The funding follows research by the Big Lottery Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, which looks at how people feel about communities in the UK today.  The findings show that while community spirit is strong, highly valued and can be found in all regions of the UK, more needs to be done to challenge negative perceptions and to get more people actively involved.

While almost seven in ten (65%) report a stong sense of community in their local area, just four in ten (41%) think the same of the UK as a whole.  A third (33%) think the UK's community spirit is dying out, while 29% say it only comes out in a crisis - perceptions that The Big Walk and The Big Lunch will help to overcome.

Likewise, the initiatives will help more people get involved in their communities. Three quarters (74%) say that being part of their community is important to them, but at the same time less than a third (31%) are actively getting involved or taking part.  By connecting people with their communities, The Big Walk and The Big Lunch will help them to unlock important benefits.  The survey respondents identify these as friendship (65%), a sense of belonging (55%) and mutual support (49%).

Eden Project Communities estimates that disconnected communities are costing the UK £32 billion per year, through a range of factors such as the impact on health and well-being and lower levels of productivity.

The Big Walk and The Big Lunch will seek to tackle some of these issues.  They will shine a spotlight on the strength of communities across the UK, providing great opportunities for people to get to know one another and, more importantly, encouraging them to take part.

Dawn Austwick, Chief Executive of the Big Lottery Fund, said: "Thanks to National Lottery players, The Big Walk will showcase the incredible work of communities up and down the country, while The Big Lunch will be the largest gathering of neighbours in the UK.  These celebrations will help to raise awareness of the importance of strong communities and inspire many more of us to actively play a part.

"This is why we're excited to be working with the Eden Project to create new opportunities across the UK for people to build connections, spark friendships and lay the foundations that enable communities to thrive."

Peter Stewart MVO, Eden Project Executive Director, said:  "We know that disconnected communities could be costing the UK economy £32 billion every year through a range of factors such as the impact on health and well-being, lower productivity and higher crime. It's concerning that while people clearly value being part of a strong community many are still not actively participating, despite the economic and social benefits it would bring.

"We want more people to feel connected to their community, but also for more communities to connect and build mutual understanding and support.  This is what The Big Walk and The Big Lunch are all about and it's great to see National Lottery money playing such a key role in bringing people together in such a positive and impactful way."

The Big Lottery Fund distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes.  Every week, it gives out over £13 million to fund bright ideas, big or small, in communities across the UK.

[1] Research conducted by 3Gem on behalf of Big Lottery Fund between 13 - 20 October, 2017 amongst a UK nationally representative sample of 2,000 adult respondents.

[2] The cost of disconnected communities