The Big Lunch is back in Northern Ireland for 2016 and calling out for residents, community groups and local organisations to get involved.
Now in its eighth year, the idea from the Eden Project, made possible by the Big Lottery Fund, aims to get as many people as possible to have lunch with their neighbours in a simple act of community, friendship and fun.
This year Johnston Press, the publishers of the Larne, Carrick and Newtownabbey Times have joined in the community spirit of the Big Lunch with a media partnership.
Over the next number of weeks we will be giving you plenty of ideas to make your own get-togethers a success.
And we’ll be making sure that people throughout east Antrim have every opportujnity to find out more about how hosting a Big Lunch can really help to make the difference in their own area.
In previous years Big Lunch dates were held right across Larne, Carrick and Newtownabbey with people getting together for a bite to eat and some good old-fashioned community spirit.
A Big Lunch can be a great way for people to get together and can forge long-standing relationships that will really benefit the community.
Big Lunches can be in your back garden, your street, or in a large public space. Some are barbecues, some picnics, they can involve a handful of people right up to huge gatherings.
The event doesn’t have to be a grand social affair, it is really more the getting together that is important. But, there’s lots of fun to be had along the way in planning for the day itself.
The participation figures are remarkable - last year there were hundreds of Big Lunches across NI with tens of thousands of people taking part. Across the whole of the UK more than 7.3 million people were involved.
The important thing is gathering together to enjoy some food and getting to know your neighbours and community better.
This year the main date is Sunday, June 12 – the same day as the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations – but it is your Big Lunch and can take place whenever you want!
Grainne McCloskey, Partnership Manager for The Big Lunch Northern Ireland, said: “The Big Lunch is about bringing people closer.
“It has been running now since 2009 and has grown massively in that time, because those who take part know the huge social benefits to all involved.”
Joanne McDowell, Northern Ireland Director of The Big Lottery Fund, said: “We are delighted to continue our sponsorship of The Big Lunch.
“It has had a really positive impact on communities across Northern Ireland and we are looking forward to seeing the difference it will make to people once again.”
Organising your own Big Lunch is simple - just register online for one of the free starter packs and you’ll have all the necessary materials within a week or two.
Included within each pack are invites, posters, activity and recipe cards, grow-your-own vegetable seeds, Gruffalo stickers and lots of useful planning advice.
To order your free pack just visit www.thebiglunch.com and join in the fun.
The Big Lunch website also has lots of tips, recipes and ideas, such as a five-step guide to organising a street party, printable resources like posters and leaflets you can personalise, and Big Lunch
Stories from previous years that can be a great source of ideas. - so check and see what has worked well in other areas.
Remember, it is your Big Lunch and it can be whatever you want it to be!