15 August 2022

Each year, The Big Lunch brings millions of people together across the UK to celebrate their community on the first weekend in June.  All made possible thanks to The National Lottery.

This year, The Big Jubilee Lunch was part of the official celebrations for HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and a whopping 17.2 million people took part. That’s one in four of the UK population, making this the biggest Big Lunch on record!

But aside from being big, participants and organisers have reported profound, positive impacts, both for them personally and for the whole community. Emily Mann, our Research Manager shares the top findings…

The Big Impact

The Big Lunch started in 2009 with the simple aim to bring people together in their communities to share a meal and make connections. Since then, it’s grown and grown and almost 1.2 million events have taken place to date:

In 2012 and 2022, we had the honour of being an official part of HM The Queen’s Diamond and Platinum Jubilee celebrations, encouraging even more people to take part to mark these historic occasions.  In fact, celebrating the Jubilee was one of the top three reasons for people taking part in 2022 – but as in previous years, the fun factor was a big driver -  with 89% of attendees saying it helped to cheer people up.

Although not officially a fundraiser event, many Big Lunches are used to raise vital funds - mostly for local charities and causes. This year, an enormous £22.2 million was donated in total. That’s three times the amount raised at Big Lunch events in 2021:

Year-on-year, our annual research has shown that The Big Lunch really is about more than the day itself, with participants reporting that they’re more likely to get involved in future community activities and volunteering.

12.9 million people said they’d be more likely to lend a neighbour a hand and 11.4 million want to keep in touch with people they met. 

The Big Lunch helps integrate people and reduce isolation and loneliness – by providing a simple reason for connection:

Every event is different, but we know that the initiative has the power to unite people, with 91% of organisers saying it’s a good way to bring people with different views and outlooks together and 80% stating it brings people from different ethnic backgrounds together.

Following the Pandemic and in the midst of a growing cost of living crisis, this kind of community connection is needed now more than ever before:

The overwhelming majority of organiser’s believe The Big Lunch is needed to help rebuild communities post Covid and 93% say more people should get involved.

77% also recognise that people need to rally together and provide more support to one another and those facing hardship, as one organiser explains: 

“...It is vital, especially after the last few years and also helps those that are financially insecure, as it’s one of very few events that is free of charge and actually encourages people to give back their time to the community.”

What’s more, The Big Lunch encourages others to take greater care too:

“It’s a great example to set for young people to see the community working together to benefit the local area and to witness it on a wider scale…"

We’re incredibly proud of the impact The Big Lunch has made in the last 14 years. It provides a simple platform from which other things can grow, from informal friendships, fun, and conversations on the day, to tackling broader issues affecting neighbourhoods.

View and download the full Impact Infographic

It’s just one part of our wider Eden Project Communities Programme, which also includes:

  • A Network – providing peer-to-peer support, through regular meet-ups, networking events and workshops that help develop new knowledge, skills and experience.
  • Community Camps – a free, immersive learning experience to support those starting out on their community journey. With practical activities, workshop sessions and networking opportunities, Camps take place online and at the Eden Project in Cornwall. Applications for 2022 and 2023 are now open! Find out more, spread the word and apply!

The Big Lunch promotes ripples of kindness and care for others and the environment - this can only be a good thing