The Big Lunch Building Pride in Place

In November 2023 the Northern Housing Consortium and partners published Pride in Place: Views from Northern Communities. As part of the project, residents across the North told us that neighbourliness was central to what made them proud of their areas. People wanted to see more done to support initiatives that promote community spirit, increasing social connection but also tackling loneliness and isolation.

The Big Lunch, an idea from the Eden Project made possible by the National Lottery, was cited in Pride in Place as national good practice and an initiative for NHC members to get behind.

In this guest blog, Kate Groves at Eden Project Communities shares more about The Big Lunch and how you can get involved…


The Big Lunch 2024 campaign

The Big Lunch began in 2009 and brings millions of people together in their communities to share friendship, food and fun each June. Over 1.3m Big Lunches have taken place to date and the initiative has become the largest community-led fundraiser and neighbourhood get-together in the UK. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s much more than just lunch.

Research shows that The Big Lunch helps build connections, increase pride in place and often sparks further community action. The annual survey following The Big Lunch 2023 revealed that 10.7m people felt they belonged more in their community after taking part and more than £14m was raised for local charities and good causes.

The vast majority of organisers said that their Big Lunch helped bring different generations (95%) and different ethnic backgrounds (81%) together and a massive 11.4 million people said it made them feel less lonely.

The initiative has the ability to cross divides, giving people a reason to come together and connect, with everyone bringing something to the table, be that something to eat, a game to play, a story to tell or indeed the table itself!

After The Big Lunch, many participants go on to get more involved in voluntary work, make improvements to their local area or organise further activities and events in their community.

The Big Lunch is a ready-made engagement tool for housing associations that can help your communities flourish and many are already involved – either organising events for residents to enjoy, encouraging them to hold their own, or providing support and sometimes funding to help communities take part.

NHC member Riverside Group came together with local authorities and a community center in Botcherby, Carlisle, back in 2016 to organise a Big Lunch to bring the local community together following the devastating floods and celebrate the center reopening.

More recently in 2019, L&Q Group hosted a street party that brought 150 residents at a new eco-development site in Erith together, to help residents get to know one another and learn more about their community.

Lucy Chitty, Sales and Customer Services Director at L&Q, said:

“The Big Lunch is a fantastic initiative to promote good relationships and strengthen local communities. We are proud to support our residents to establish the family-friendly community spirit that we envisioned for The Quarry.”


Eden Project Communities, the people behind The Big Lunch, provide a free digital pack with everything needed to organise an event, as well as a communications toolkit to make it really easy for housing associations to promote the campaign.

This year, The Big Lunch is on 1-2 June and they are serving up ideas to help make it the greenest yet.


Find out more and get the comms toolkit

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