Joanne and Sarah from East Belfast

Sarah Williamson from East Belfast is thanking her friend, Joanne.

"I want to do a massive shout out to the legendary Joanne Boal who lives 5 minutes away and has brought over incredible food to eat with my baby and I pretty much every week since he was born. Steak, curry, stew, risotto - we’ve had it all! I’d like to celebrate her! Sarah in East Belfast thanks Joanne Boal for being #ThereForMe."

Joanne was recently nominated by The Big Lunch for a “Nextdoor” neighbour award and won!

We first came to know about Joanne and her amazing efforts in bringing her community together, last year when she took on the challenge of organising an inclusive Royal Wedding celebration for her entire street. With the help of Nextdoor, Joanne was able to invite all 76 households to join the event, which saw neighbours, young and old, come together to enjoy good food, conversation and company. The event was such a success, Jo held another street party this year as part of our friends at the Eden Projects’ annual Big Lunch.

As she’s originally from a farming community, she recognises the value of sitting down and sharing a plate of food with her neighbours. Residents who weren’t originally from Northern Ireland were able to bring a dish native to their country, acting as a great talking point for them to meet their new neighbours.

It would be an understatement to say that Joanne is simply a ‘good neighbour’, she goes above and beyond for everyone in her community. When one of her neighbours was having a difficult time, Joanne encouraged her to get involved with The Big Lunch and it helped her neighbour to really come out of her shell. Since, they have become the best of friends and Joanne has been able to be there for her when she has a hard time and supports her when she feels lonely.