The Big Lunch 2019
The wind and weather didn’t dampen our hardy spirits this weekend as the resourceful Northern Ireland Big Lunchers made the most of the gaps in the clouds and their indoor spaces and soldiered on anyway.
Big Lunches were held all over every county to celebrate diversity, community spirit and build connections with people living and working nearby. At The Big Lunar Lunch at St. Patrick’s Church in Lisburn Syrian refugees came together with Lisburn natives for a nighttime iftar. University of Ulster held a Big Lunch to celebrate the diversity of the university population. Belfast City Council held a Big Lunch for Belfast families in Lord and Lady Dixon Park. The Chelsea held a big Lunch garden party to celebrate the local community that supports the business year after year. The National Lottery Community Fund held their annual Big Lunch in their office in the Gasworks to avoid the rain, along with neighbouring businesses and several of their funded projects. People in Millisle, Groomsport, Gortin, Killough, Derry, Dungiven, Cloughmills, and all over Belfast stepped up to the challenge of inviting neighbours together for a Big Lunch in their area, and every one resulted in new connections and a spark of community spirit.
East Belfast Big Luncher Joanne Boal brought the fun and games to her street on Saturday: “I’m from the country originally and I didn’t know the rules in the city. Now I know that people leaving their outside door open meant that they were at home, like an invite in, and our street does that now after our Big Lunches. I’ve lived in other countries too and like the global mix on my street. We held a Big Lunch for the royal wedding last year and some of the ladies got hats from the charity shops to dress up we had a great time and followed up by a party at Christmas, an open house - inviting people to come over and see my husbands’ Lego snow scene. This year for our Big Lunch we had more activities for the kids so the parents could have a glass of wine together and then only have to walk home a few yards back home. Local cafes donated cakes And sausage rolls. We were so lucky with the weather too - It’s a great time of year to get outside and take over the street. I had the snow patrol song in my head “take back the city tonight.” I’m stocked up with plates and napkins for next year as well people were so generous with gifts.
"As a team of neighbors we can do anything now!”
While the annual Big Lunch main date is the first weekend of June, in Northern Ireland, they happen all through the summer and many more are coming up this weekend and next, planting seeds of happiness, positivity and friendship in 1031 streets, towns, villages, and rural roads around northern Ireland.
Grainne McCloskey, manager of the Big Lunch Northern Ireland has been out on the road over the last couple of weeks visiting community groups holding Big lunches in every county and drumming up momentum for The Big Lunch 2019.
“We think of Northern Ireland as a friendly place where everyone knows their neighbours, but the research that we published earlier this year clearly shows that as our lives get busier and social media takes up more of our time, we are becoming more disconnected from people living nearby.
“We at The Big Lunch Northern Ireland invite people in Northern Ireland to organize a Big Lunch together with their neighbours once a year to reverse that trend. It sounds so simple - everyone brings something to the table and connects over lunch - but a cup of tea, cake, and social contact can make a huge difference to the most vulnerable people in your area who might go weeks without talking to another person. Just knowing there are friendly people nearby can change how they feel about where they live. It’s also important to connect with people you might not usually socialize with, to make connections with people from other beliefs and backgrounds.
“Organizing a Big Lunch somehow makes your community a more connected, happier place to live. Time after time we hear people say they only ‘get it’ once they’ve done it - they begin to understand the impact. In spite of the worry - will it rain? will people come along? will they talk to one another? - time after time we hear people say it all comes together one way or another and for a few hours they create a little bit of magic where they live - enough to last throughout the year. It always takes one person to start it off though, so we hope people will take the initiative and register at www.thebiglunch.com”
The Big Lunch, an idea from the Eden Project, made possible by The National Lottery, now attracts millions of people across the UK. Last year 6 million people took part in over 68,500 Big Lunch events. There is still time to join the celebration this summer by registering www.thebiglunch.com.
The Big Lunch is about millions of people getting together to share food and get to know each other better. Every year, over 6 million people take to their streets, gardens and neighbourhoods to join in for a few hours of community, friendship and fun thebiglunch.com.
for more photos see: https://www.facebook.com/pg/TheBigLunchNorthernIreland/photos/