Take time to talk this summer by getting stuck in with The Big Lunch Northern Ireland. The Big Lunch will be at Belfast Spring Fair on 27 April 1-5pm at Malone House and Barnett Demesne. Come along to find out more and pick up your free pack to get you started. The Big Lunch is an idea from Eden Project Communities, made possible with money raised by National Lottery players.
East Belfast woman, Patricia Kearney, had heard about other Big Lunches in Northern Ireland over the years and wanted to do something for her own street. There was a big divide on the street between older people who had lived in the area for a long time, and younger families who had moved in within the last ten years.
Patricia said: “The older people all knew each other, and the mums sort of knew each other but their kids didn’t and nobody mixed – we were like separate communities. So I thought we should have a Big Lunch to bring all those groups together to feel like one community.”
So that’s exactly what she did! Patricia and eight other people on the street came together and got stuck in organising their Big Lunch.
“It was a real team effort,” said Patricia. “Everyone came out to help set up on the street. We had borrowed tables, chairs and a couple of gazebos from friends and family. The kids helped too, and then they started playing with each other really naturally. “It was all amazingly easy. We made sure it was really informal so nobody was in charge and everyone got involved together.”
The sense of community spirit extended beyond the street itself. “We invited neighbours from a local residential home to join the street party. They said they hadn’t really felt like part of the community which I thought was really sad. One of the older ladies from the residential home had her 93rd birthday on the day, and we all sang Happy Birthday to her. She said, ‘This is the best birthday party I’ve ever been to.’ I thought that was very sweet.”
Whether it’s a lunch, an evening meal or a cuppa and a slice of cake, The Big Lunch is all about getting people together and building stronger communities.
This year The Big Lunch will take place over the weekend of 1 and 2 June, to find out more visit www.TheBigLunch.com or chat in person at Belfast Spring Fair at Malone House and Barnett Demesne on 27 April 1-5pm.