Get the party started with share in £2,000 Big Lunch prize pot

One of last year's Big Lunches at Lough Erne.  INLT 22-655-CON
One of last year's Big Lunches at Lough Erne. INLT 22-655-CON

People and community groups who want to throw a party for their neighbours this June could now win part of a £2,000 prize pot.

The Big Lunch is the UK’s annual get-together for neighbours, an idea from the Eden Project made possible by The Big Lottery Fund. Now in its seventh year and growing ever-more popular, it is a low-cost way to have a great time with everyone who lives nearby, with free lottery-funded packs available now to local residents, groups and schools.

Having started in 2009, it is now becoming a tradition and part of the annual calendar for communities across NI and the rest of the UK. 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 participation figures are remarkable - last year there were hundreds of Big Lunches across NI with tens of thousands of people taking part. As many as 240,000 people in Northern Ireland have participated in a Big Lunch since over the last five years.

A total of 84 per cent of participants said it made them feel better about their neighbourhood, and eight out of 10 people who took part have kept in touch with people they met at Big Lunches in previous years.

To be eligible for a voucher to get your get-together going all you have to do is register for a Big Lunch starter pack then outline your plans online.

Just visit http://www.thebiglunchers.com/ for all the information required to leave you in with a chance to win £50 to spend at your local supermarket.

Grainne McCloskey, manager of the Big Lunch in Northern Ireland, said: “Big Lunches are a great way to have fun, make friends and build community spirit – and this giveaway makes it even easier for anyone to get their Big Lunch up and running.”

If you would like to plan something bigger there is a Crowdfunder opportunity at http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/plus/the-big-lunch/big-lunch

The Eden Project is offering up to £5,000 to support around 25 communities to either put on a Big Lunch for the very first time, or to help them to do something extra special. If you apply on that site, we could provide a grant of £200 towards the costs of hosting your Lunch. It might help towards the costs of insurance, equipment or even food.

Note you can enter both competitions should you chose and these are both open to members of the public not just constituted groups as we want to encourage wider participation and all kinds of Big Lunch get-togethers this June.

Joanne McDowell, Northern Ireland Director of the Big Lottery Fund said: “We are delighted to continue our support for The Big Lunch. Lots of people told us that it has changed how they feel about their local community, and it shows just how powerful a simple idea can be.”