In times gone by, royal weddings, jubilees and memorials were often regarded as good excuses for friends, families and neighbours to get together, and hold an event such as a street party. However, the community spirit in many of our towns, cities and housing estates is not as strong as it once was.
Enter the Eden Project’s The Big Lunch, an event created to restore some community camaraderie, and encourage people to meet and befriend their neighbours just like the old days.
The Big Lunch was launched back in 2009 as a simple way to bring neighbours together to share food and conversation at a planned community lunch event. The date of this year’s event, on Sunday 12th June 2016, will mark its 7th year running.
Though it is built upon a humble concept, it has helped establish stronger neighbourly ties, friendships and provided many opportunities for fun in communities across the UK. Is it time to plan your own Big Lunch at your care home?
On the Care Shop blog, we often discuss the importance of care home residents maintaining ties with the wider community. The Big Lunch is a real opportunity for residents and staff to take the reins and organise a fun event of their own.
Many older care home residents may have attended or even organised their own street parties in the past and so they may have feelings of warmth and nostalgia associated with taking part in this type of activity.
With a little organisation it needn’t be expensive or even complicated to hold a Big Lunch. You may already cook a Sunday lunch for residents where you could add some extra chairs around the table, or you could invite other local organisations such as local Scout, Brownie and Guide groups, choirs and sports teams to ensure that community members of all ages are involved.
As street parties and other wider community activities and events are perhaps less frequent than they once were, there are far fewer opportunities for old and young people to mingle and share stories and interests, something which can be interesting and enjoyable for all involved. If new people have moved into the area or individuals are feeling isolated and lonely, the extension of an invitation to attend the Big Lunch could really brighten their mood and help them to feel ‘at home’ in the neighbourhood.
And, along with finding out more about their neighbours, attendees at The Big Lunch frequently go on to share skills and resources with them too, which means organising just one event might be the start of lots of other great things happening in the area in and around your care home. You could even choose to combine your Big Lunch with another community event such as a cinema screening, fair, or a performance of some kind.
Whether you choose to ask attendees to bring along some food for the table, or your own kitchen or local businesses chip in to provide a tasty spread, coming together for the Eden Project’s The Big Lunch event has already proved worthwhile for many communities across the UK.
A survey of participants in the 2015 event revealed that 85% said the even made them feel better about their local neighbourhood, and 90% of organisers felt less isolated after the event too. Take a look at The Big Lunch resources page to get started organising your event by downloading posters and invites.
Will you be organising an Eden Project-inspired Big Lunch at your care home? Have you taken part in a Big Lunch event in previous years? We would love to hear about it, so leave us a comment below.