Why should Councils back The Big Lunch?

The ambition behind The Big Lunch was is to create a moment in the year that has the potential to affect real change in our communities by building social capital on a mass scale. 

Independent research carried out every year since it started in 2009, helps us understand the impact The Big Lunch is having across the UK. Here are just five of the reasons councils should support it!

1. The Big Lunch helps create ‘connected communities’

  • 4 million new friendships were formed during The Big Lunch in 2019 alone;
  • 92% of organisers told us that The Big Lunch creates stronger communities and 98% say more communities should hold a Big Lunch.

People who attend a Big Lunch report feeling:

  • Prouder of where they live (73%)
  • A stronger sense of belonging to their community (73%)
  • More confident (72%) about getting involved in community activities as a result

In 2020, with lockdown restrictions in place, The Big Lunch became a special moment for us to give thanks to our neighbours, friends and those near to us for their help, support and smiles, through difficult times.  The number of Big Lunch activities and events (held safely either online or at a distance) more than doubled to over 187,000 across the UK. You can read more here.

2. Connected communities deliver substantial economic benefits for local authorities 

According to research carried out by leading economics consultancy the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), neighbourliness delivers substantial economic benefits to UK society, representing an annual saving of £23.8 billion in total.

This saving comes from sharing between neighbours, an increase in social connection and reductions in the demands on public services such as healthcare, social care, welfare and the environment. Councils that support The Big Lunch can reap the financial benefits that come from creating happier, healthier communities that are more resilient and self-sufficient.

Read more about the cost of disconnected communities research conducted by Cebr.

3. The Big Lunch encourages inclusion and integration 

Independent research following The Big Lunch 2019 showed that:

  • 80% of people think that The Big Lunch helps to bring different generations together
  • 77% think that The Big Lunch helps to bring people from different ethnic backgrounds together

The Big Lunch is for everyone. It’s a simple way to bring people from different generations, backgrounds and cultures together through shared food and conversation.

The Big Lunar Lunch also helps make Big Lunch events suitable for those that might not be able to take part during the day because they’re juggling busy lives, or working irregular shift patterns.

4. It helps reduce isolation and loneliness

Independent research following The Big Lunch 2019 showed that:

  • 3.8 million people who attended said The Big Lunch helped them feel less lonely
  • 79% of Big Lunch organisers think that it significantly helps to reduce loneliness

Research shows that almost seven out of 10 adults in the UK often feel lonely and 10% of people over 65 feel lonely all the time. Loneliness harms us as individuals and it harms our neighbourhoods and communities.

It can increase the pressure on a wide-range of council and health services, leading to increased referrals to adult social care and being the cause of a significant number of attendances at GP surgeries.

5. It’s a ready-made engagement tool

The Big Lunch is a well-established, UK-wide initiative from the Eden Project, made possible by the National Lottery. Each year, we send out thousands of Big Lunch packs and provide inspiration, information and resources that people need to plan their community events – however big or small they might be.

Since it began in 2009, The Big Lunch has grown ten-fold and each year gets bigger and better:

  • 17.7 million people in the UK have heard of The Big Lunch;
  • More than half a million Big Lunches have been held since it started
  • Over 38 million connections made across the UK through The Big Lunch
  • 4 million new friendships were formed during The Big Lunch in 2019 alone

By simply promoting The Big Lunch and supporting residents to take part, local authorities can help the movement continue to grow. The more it grows, the more individuals, councils and communities can benefit from the proven positive impact that The Big Lunch can have.

Download our free Toolkit for Councils, which makes it really easy to spread the word online and through council newsletters, social media and publications.