There is clear overlap between the aims of housing associations, as a tool to both engage existing communities and also create opportunities for sustainable integration with the wider community. Every year, housing associations across the UK support and encourage communities to take part in The Big Lunch by providing staff time, micro grants and access to community spaces, encouraging community champions and spreading the word about The Big Lunch and its benefits.
Housing associations can really help to encourage and support people in their areas to get involved in The Big Lunch - and reap the community benefits, here's how:
Spreading the word
Ask your communications team to help spread the word to residents through the website, newsletters, publications, events and social media using #TheBigLunch. You can use the copy templates, suggested social media posts, photographs, logos and sample press release provided to help.
Contact your Tenant and Resident Associations and encourage them to request their FREE Big Lunch packs, full of tips and resources to help with their planning.
Inviting the wider community
Sharing a meal together is a great way to find connections between people who might not otherwise ever meet, despite living in the same area. The Big Lunch provides a fantastic opportunity to create, strengthen or maintain links with local residents, groups or institutions outside of your Housing Association.
- Map your local community - take the opportunity to discover which groups and institutions are nearby. Ask your residents, you may be surprised to find out what's on your doorstep!
- Targeted invitations - engaging community groups, schools or other organisations is often easier and more effective than an open invitation for local individuals. It also allows you to personalise your invitation to a specific group of people, and start a conversation which could lead to a long and positive relationship
- Breaking down walls - sharing food and sharing space can enable conversations and connections between people who might not think they have anything in common. Whether the perceived divisions are through age, culture, ethnicity or anything else, food can bring us all together and celebrate what we have in common
Whether or not there is staff time available to help with organising Big Lunches, the best option for long-term change is to encourage The Big Lunch to be resident-led, with support from staff only where necessary. The beauty of The Big Lunch is in its simplicity, and it can be a real confidence boost for people who have little experience with community action.
- Micro grants - money isn't necessary, but small pots can sometimes make a big difference. It doesn't even have to be money - offering a venue, or help with food or decorations for example, can make organisers feel that they are not alone
- Shared ownership - with food, everyone has a story and something to share. By inviting residents to bring a dish which means something to them, it allows people to actively engage in the event, rather than passively. Different individuals or groups can also be given responsibility for specific tasks, such as outreach or decorations
- Encourage new community leaders - taking part in The Big Lunch could be the start of something really special for your residents! Many people go on to do much more, and there is a huge amount of support out there for people who want to start their own project, whether it is a community garden, a befriending scheme, or a lantern parade. Here are some other ideas