Northern Ireland sporting stars joined forces at Ravenhill Rugby Ground today to help launch the Big Lunch 2013.
Ruan Pienaar, from Ulster Rugby, Neil McManus, Captain of Antrim Hurling Team, and Northern Ireland Ladies International Soccer player, (NIWFA) Simone Magill, joined Grainne McCloskey from the Big Lunch and Alison Fraser, from the Big Lottery Fund, to launch this year’s Big Lunch.
And the sports heroes are encouraging the people of Northern Ireland to open their doors to their neighbours and get together for a Big Lunch on Sunday 2nd June.
Research carried out among 3,000 adults in the UK by The Big Lunch – a one day get-together encouraging neighbours to share a few hours of food, friendship and fun – found that on average more than half of those surveyed don’t know their neighbours, with one in four having no idea what their names are.
The people of Northern Ireland have a great base to work from as respondents here were revealed to be much friendlier than our mainland counterparts, with over three quarters of Belfast residents already on first name terms with their neighbours.
The findings showed that almost a third of people in Northern Ireland would like to get to know their neighbours better and of these, 67 per cent were keen to improve community spirit in their area.
Over half of those surveyed in Northern Ireland said they would like to see an increase in local community events, despite a staggering 82 per cent admitting they have not attended a community event within the last twelve months.
Alison Fraser, Big Lottery Fund Senior Head of Funding, said: “The Big Lunch has firmly established itself in Northern Ireland as a great way for communities and neighbourhoods to come together in the simple act of sharing a meal.
“The Big Lottery Fund is encouraging charities, volunteer organisations and community groups across Northern Ireland to run Big Lunches in their communities that will bring local people together. The good conversations started at Big Lunches can lead to stronger neighbourhood networks and motivate people to take more of an active role in their communities.”
Sir Tim Smit, Co-Founder of The Big Lunch, said: “There was a time when everyone was very friendly with the people living next door but this has become quite rare.
“It’s a shame to see that there are many people who haven’t got the time or are too nervous to get to know their neighbours. We’re keen to change this and were delighted when 8.5 million took part in successful Big Lunches in their communities last June.
Taking place on 2nd June 2013, The Big Lunch is an idea from the Eden Project funded by The Big Lottery Fund, encouraging people across the UK to come together on one day to share a few hours of food, friendship and fun.
For further information or to request your free pack containing invitations, recipes, posters and other materials to help organise your Big Lunch, visit www.thebiglunch.com