Cupcakes and community cohesion

Community connection, cohesion and loneliness are high on the public agenda, making it critical to bring people together informally.

In November 2019, research found that 48.5 million people in the UK think life feels more uncertain now than five years ago, citing environmental, economic and political factors.

We know community is important, especially when life is uncertain; being neighbourly and feeling part of a community is good for our wellbeing, happiness and even for our economy.

We need to breathe vitality back into our communities, but how?

The Big Lunch, the UK’s biggest annual get together for neighbours, has campaigned for neighbourly connection for more than 10 years. Now six million people of all faiths, ages, ethnicities and backgrounds join The Big Lunch each year, sharing food and conversation and getting to know each other better. Evidence suggests this simple act of friendship is a step that helps communities to thrive.

Behind the cupcakes and bunting, there is a wide ranging and lasting impact. Last year, 4.5 million people said they felt less lonely because of their Big Lunch, 4.8 million said they felt a stronger sense of belonging, and 72 per cent felt more confident about getting involved in other community activities.

As budget cuts force local authorities to devolve responsibilities, catalysing connections will help neighbourhoods respond.

Even better news, a whopping 98 per cent felt more communities should hold a Big Lunch – surely that’s a recommendation any council can get behind!

Council support is vital to the spread of Big Lunch magic to their communities and it doesn’t need to cost a lot. There are two really simple ways a council can help:

  • spread the word about The Big Lunch to your residents this year with our free downloadable council toolkit
  • communicate event and road closure guidelines clearly and if possible waive costs or suggest alternative venues.

Many councils are already backing The Big Lunch, right across the UK, and reaping the benefits of happier and more resilient communities.

Yvonne Gaye, Senior Community and Voluntary Sector Officer at the London Borough of Croydon, told us how the council formalised its support of The Big Lunch after the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. 

She explains: “It was such a joy to see cohesion happening in our borough – through something as simple as residents getting together to hold Big Lunch events. We got behind the 2012 street parties because of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, but now it’s become an important part of our annual calendar.

“Residents wanted it to continue and so do we, as we know that Big Lunches have the power to bring diverse groups of people together – which supports our community cohesion strategy.”

The Big Lunch is 6-7 June 2020.

We’re also working closely with VE Day75 this year for those who wish to hold their street party celebrations in May and beyond.

Find out more online at www.thebiglunch.com/councils or email Tracey at trobbins@edenproject.com if you’d like to chat about how to bring The Big Lunch to your area.

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