Ali attended Community Camp in 2012 and the same year Ali’s local town council in Chipping Sodbury held a Big Lunch to commemorate the Queen’s Jubilee.
The following year, and keen to carry on this new Big Lunch tradition, Ali held an open meeting in a local pub, inviting the local community to come along and share ideas for the type of event they wanted. 'I was amazed at how many people came out just to support the event and help organise it!'
The Big Lunch
2500 people turned up to celebrate their community and bask in the Gloucestershire sunshine.
Next year the town decided they would have a different theme for each Big Lunch, a decision which has seen the people of Chipping Sodbury treated to a 1940s style celebration, a Country and Western Hoedown, a seaside themed ‘day at the beach’, and even a medieval banquet to celebrate 800 years of the town!
This year, the committee chose to have an American themed Big Lunch. The streets were decorated with American flags and hay bales, there was line dancing courtesy of Blazing Saddles, and even an appearance from a Dolly Parton tribute act!
Ali said “Despite the weather being shocking, we still had a fantastic turnout. People didn’t care that it was raining, we’re British, and we’re going to get on with it and have a great time!”
The event was supported by local businesses, with a butcher donating a hog roast, a pub holding a BBQ and event an ice cream van coming along on the day, in an attempt to keep it local and support businesses in the community.“It’s all about supporting people and businesses in Chipping Sodbury. The idea is that people socialise with people they wouldn’t necessarily know – it’s a lovely
Christmas Big Lunch
With the Chipping Sodbury Big Lunch in June being such a hit, the committee had lots of requests from the public to hold a second event each year around Christmas. Unlike the summer event, the Christmas event is a more intimate, invite-only affair, aimed at tackling social isolation within the community. Ali said, “We really try to reach these people at Christmas, to bring them together and share food. We provide transport and make it as easy as possible. It’s a tear-jerker event, but lovely.”
For Ali, the effects of this event are tangible. She said “There was one lady who was very anxious about coming to the event. Thankfully, she plucked up the courage and came along. Since coming, she’s now living a different life! She’s going out shopping and is much less isolated, that’s the power of these events.”
Impact on our community
The Big Lunch has helped us to build connections with other groups, and encourage inter-group working, which is brilliant! It’s bringing our community closer together, it’s amazing.
It’s helped bring people together, and have a sense of pride in our town. It’s helped people come out and say, this is fantastic, what a lovely place to live.”