The ambition behind The Big Lunch was to create a moment in the year that would eventually be owned by everyone - a sort of Thanksgiving Day for neighbours, because, behind the cupcakes and the bunting, is the potential to effect real change in our communities with a day that is building social capital on a mass scale.
We talk a lot about 'connected communities' and the positive outcomes that occur as a result of them. What we mean by a 'connected community' is one where you know who you live next to: saying hello, smiling, waving and stopping for a chat from time to time. It could mean borrowing a cup of sugar, or children playing in communal spaces, or inviting your neighbours to watch the football together. Ultimately, connected communities are residents who look out for each other.
The Big Lunch provides a simple platform from which these things can grow, from informal friendships, fun and conversations on the day, to tackling broader societal issues that may affect a street or neighbourhood. For many, holding a Big Lunch ignites a passion for doing more things in their community, to make a positive difference where they live.
People who organise a Big Lunch report feeling more inspired (77%), able (82%) and confident (82%) about getting involved in community events as a result, and 65% go on to take part in other community activities with people they have met at The Big Lunch. 74% of organisers feel an increased sense of community and 88% feel better about where they live.
Connected communities are more resilient. They are better able to spring back when hard times hit, to protect and prepare themselves against global issues, and they are happier and healthier. According to research, neighbourliness also delivers substantial economic benefits to UK society, representing an annual saving to public services of £23.8 billion in total.