Breaking down barriers one-by-one with The Big Lunch

Paul is really involved with the Eden Project Communities Network, he went to Clarence House to meet our Patron, was awarded Neighbour of the Year for Manchester and has attended one of our Community Camps, supported by National Lottery funding.

Paul has held a Big Lunch in his neighbourhood every year ever since it began, starting in Manchester, but when he moved to Southampton he packed the idea with him and he had his first Big Lunch there in 2017.  

They had typical Manchester weather for a lot oftheir Big Lunches but everyone always has a great time with a brass band, a barber shop quartet, bunting and even an ice cream van.  They now have a facebook page set up and hold other events like Halloween street parties, and lots of people get stuck in and help.

It’s about breaking down barriers, and it’s amazing what that can do.

The impact

After The Big Lunch people offered to look after each other’s pets and take the bins out when they were on holiday. They started going on camping holidays as a street and some neighbours even went on international holidays together.

‘The Big Lunch is a great idea because it’s a really simple concept. It gets you thinking that you need to stop mucking around, stop walking past your neighbours in the street, and just say hello and start something, whether it’s three people or hundreds. It’s about breaking down barriers, and it’s amazing what that can do. The Big Lunch is a really nice excuse for it, it means it’s not just me doing it, it’s a thing people can get behind.’

Moving to Southampton

Paul moved down south to Southampton to be closer to his wife’s family and had his first Big Lunch with his new neighbours in 2017. They moved to a new development, which Paul thinks has helped as they all made an effort.

‘People were really up for it, which is strange because I thought I might notice a bit of a difference, northerners are always happy to be out in the cold and rain making a good time of it, and people said to me it might not be the same down here. But it’s not been the case. People really want to get to know each other, they want to know who their children are playing with.’

Join community champions like Paul next year and get your neighbours involved in The Big Lunch, 6-7 June 2020. Like Paul said, once you break down barriers, it’s amazing what that can do.