The importance of community connections

St Petrocs homeless charity has been able to offer people exposed to homelessness a safe place to stay for 35 years, but last year, as the pandemic unfolded, support workers there soon realised that harder times lay ahead.  For people faced with insecure housing or homelessness, the pandemic brought increased uncertainty making life even more of a struggle.

Serena said: "Building and strengthening community bonds for people in precarious circumstances is vital. The pandemic stopped all of that, so St Petrocs felt it was more important than ever to find new ways to help residents come together in some way.

Every year in June, The Big Lunch invites millions of people right across the UK to have fun and make positive local connections where they live, so we thought residents and staff might benefit from taking part in that.

The Big Lunch is about connecting people and making new friends, and that support... well that's just the sort of thing we might need when we face difficulties."

Twelve St Petrocs houses, and at least eighty residents got involved to share friendship and food, and to have fun with their neighbours - even cooking the same recipes, and it brought everyone closer together.  Across all of the houses, they shared something.  "It really did give us a big lift at a really difficult time."

Serena has now been chosen to become a subject of a new National Lottery commissioned portrait series called 'A Ticket to Your Happy Place', and has been photographed by iconic photographer Tom Oldham at her happy place, the Eden Project.

The portraits celebrate the return of The National Lottery Open Week & Cinema Weekend, which offers discounts and free entry and venues across the UK, including the Eden Project from 5-13 June to say thank you for the £30million raised for good causes every week by its players.

If you'd like to get to know your neighbours a little better, join in with The Big Lunch and the Month of Community this summer!