Millions of people across the Commonwealth are set to come together as part of an international initiative launched on 3 February by the Prime Minister. Commonwealth Big Lunches, created by educational charity the Eden Project, in partnership with the UK Government, encourage people to get together to celebrate their Commonwealth connections through food.
The launch comes as the UK is set to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, bringing together up to 53 leaders from across the Commonwealth to London and Windsor from 16-20 April 2018.
Lunches of all shapes and sizes are set to take place between Monday 12 March - Commonwealth Day - and Sunday 22 April. Over the six week period, high profile and diverse events will be held across the Commonwealth, including lunches hosted and attended by:
- Athletes at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia
- 30,000 students and teachers of Kalinga Institute of Social Science in India
- Lewis Pugh, British-South African UN Patron of Oceans in South Africa
- Dame Katherine Grainger, Great Britain's most decorated female Olympian, hosting a lunch for young people as part of a sports outreach programme in Ghana
- Passengers and crew aboard British Royal Research Ship, RRS James Cook
- The Scotland-Malawi Partnership, hosting a joint Scotland-Malawi lunch in Edinburgh
Prime Minister, Theresa May, said: "The Commonwealth is a diverse and vibrant network and its strength lies in the people-to-people links. The Eden Project brings together millions of people as part of their annual Big Lunch so we are delighted to partner with them on Commonwealth Big Lunches. Launching in March, Commonwealth Big Lunches will be an opportunity for people across the Commonwealth to come together and, over a shared meal, discover and celebrate their connections, experiences and stories."
Peter Stewart MVO, Executive Director of the Eden Project said: "From Commonwealth Day, we're encouraging people to come together to share friendship, food and fun with the people they live alongside. Celebrations are anticipated across 6 continents which is just phenomenal! Commonwealth Big Lunches bring people together, show the diversity we all have and importantly celebrate the commonality we all share which showcases the true spirit of the Commonwealth."
Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth said: "Commonwealth Big Lunches remind us of the range and diversity of our connections and counterparts in countries and communities far away, and bring us together with those who live alongside us locally. They offer wonderful opportunities for people of all ages to bring our great Commonwealth family alive in new ways as we work towards a common future.
"Linking countries and communities set in every continent and ocean, our Commonwealth connection is both global and local. it is also organic and human, enabling us to build together as a worldwide family. Every nation, community or individual person is able to make a contribution to the common good, and each can benefit from our collective achievements."
With 2.4 billion citizens across the Commonwealth spanning 53 countries and six continents, Commonwealth Big Lunches will provide a unique opportunity for people to unite over their shared Commonwealth links.
This initiative builds on the Eden Project's annual Big Lunch, which launched in 2009 as a way to connect people with their communities over a shared meal. it has since seen millions of people get involved, including for The Queen's Diamond Jubilee. The Big Lunch will take place later this year on Sunday 3 June.