The Eden Project calls for communities in Northern Ireland to reclaim “Sunday Lunch” and bring people closer together






Guest blog by Grainne McCloskey, NI Manager for The Eden Project

New research shows that only 58% of us in Northern Ireland sit down to Sunday lunch every week. Now Eden Project Communities is urging local communities to “Reclaim Sunday Lunch” and use it to bring communities closer together and tackle loneliness and isolation.

The research carried out online by YouGov Plc during February 2018 also shows:

  • Over half of us (52%) in Northern Ireland sat down to Sunday lunch more often as a child than we do now
  • 7% now have Sunday lunch less than once every two months, while 9% admit to never having Sunday lunch.

Despite this, many of us still recognise the benefits of communal eating with three quarters (74%) agreeing Sunday Lunch is about getting together with loved ones. 75% say that the food is the key ingredient for a successful Sunday lunch while 75% also say that the people we eat with are key.  Getting people together is one of the most effective ways of tackling the growing crisis around loneliness and social isolation. A recent study by The Co-op and the British Red Cross showed over 9 million adults in the UK of all ages – more than the population of London – are either always or often lonely.

Pacemaker Press Belfast 07-05-2015: A VE-Day themed Big Lunch, in conjunction with Belfast City Council, at the NI War Memorial in Belfast. Pictured at the event Liz Weir and Grainne .
Picture By: Arthur Allison.

That’s why Eden Project Communities is calling for all of us to reclaim Sunday Lunch and bring it back as a chance to get together – with who we want, when we want and eating and drinking whatever they fancy. Why not join millions of others across the UK and sit down to have lunch with your neighbours as part of The Big Lunch on Sunday 3rd June 2018, the UK’s biggest annual get together for neighbours. Order your free pack at


Eden Project network member and Big Lunch advocate Liz Weir is passionate about the Big Lunch and its role in reviving community spirit. She will be hosting her third Big Lunch this June at her home Ballyeamon Barn, which is a writer’s retreat and hostel in Glenariff Forest.

“When I was a child the family gathered together for meals,” said Liz.” There was no TV in the house when I was growing up, and people would come round and entertain each other.

“I’m bringing those days back. Every weekend, people come from all over to gather in my house. We have tea and coffee and biscuits and old and young alike take it in turns to tell their stories and sing their songs. Sometimes they are folk tales, sometime ghost stories or recitations of poems.”

“Nowadays we share food and tales with people from several countries at our Big Lunch. The fact that people come together to prepare and share food from Poland, South Africa, Germany, Slovakia, Italy, USA, France warms my heart.”

The Big Lunch – an idea from The Eden Project made possible by The National Lottery – will be held this year on Sunday 3 June, aiming to beat last year’s record involvement of 9.3 million people across the UK. The annual event encourages people to get together with others in their neighbourhoods to share food and fun.

Julie Harrison, Chair of Big Lottery Fund Northern Ireland, said:
“Whether two people or two hundred, sitting down together to eat and talk is important for individual people, families and communities. This is why we are supporting the Big Lunch, which provides the perfect opportunity for people to build connections, spark friendships and lay the foundations that enable communities to thrive.”

Visit the Big Lunch website to order your free event pack and to find out more.



  1. Dear sir, I am intersted to join Gautam Chaudhury

    On 30 April 2018 at 18:22, The Big Lottery Fund Northern Ireland Blog wrote:

    > Big Lottery Fund Northern Ireland posted: ” Guest blog by > Grainne McCloskey, NI Manager for The Eden Project New research shows that > only 58% of us in Northern Ireland sit down to Sunday lunch every week. Now > Eden Project Communities is urging ” >

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