Last weekend thousands of people across County Antrim sat down with neighbours and residents in their communities for the sixth annual Big Lunch.
They joined an estimated 4 million people across the whole of the UK, as The Big Lunch seems set to establish itself in the nation’s annual calendar on the first Sunday every June.
The Big Lunch, which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and led by the Eden Project, encourages people across the UK to have lunch with their neighbours once a year, for a few hours of community, friendship and fun. The simple act of chatting to neighbours can make a real difference in communities and can help tackle isolation say organisers behind the initiative.
One of the biggest Big Lunches in County Antrim this Sunday took place at Castle Upton in Templepatrick where over 1,000 people got together for a bite to eat and to raise money for local community groups.
Anna Kinahan who lives in Castle Upton with her husband Danny and family, joined forces with Templepatrick Action Community Association, the Park Gate Community Group and local churches to organise a special Big Lunch within the grounds of the castle. She said: “We have held a Big Lunch here at Castle Upton for three years now and their very success has spurred all the volunteer organisers and helpers to work hard together to produce yet another event aimed purely to bring people of all ages from the community here for a day of friendship, fun and games.”
Other lunches taking place across the region included Derry City Council’s historic walking lunch tour around the City’s Walls, a Big Lunch and Diversity Day hosted by the Whitehead Wombles for the local community in Whitehead and a Halifax Big Lunch at Crawfordsburn Country Park.
Sir Tim Smit, Co-Founder of The Big Lunch, said: “Year after year, I never fail to be impressed by the sheer number of people who get involved and take the time to hold a Big Lunch in their community. The Big Lunch is always a great success and the perfect excuse for people to get together. While on the surface, it’s a day of laughter, friendship and fun, if you look deeper than that, these get-togethers are having an enormously positive impact on communities. Big things come from Big Lunches and what they each have in common is they all start in the same way – with small talk.
After six years, it’s amazing to see so many people taking our simple idea and really making it work wonders for their communities. We’ve heard so many inspiring stories already and know they’ll be plenty more to come. Roll on The Big Lunch 2015.”
Inspired by this Sunday’s Big Lunch celebrations? There’s still chance to take part as you can organise a Big Lunch on a date to suit your community. Free packs including posters, invitations, an inspiration booklet and other resources to help organise your Big Lunch are available from www.thebiglunch.com until the end of June 2014.