The Eden Project
The Big Lunch - an Eden Project

Partnered by

  • Big Lottery Fund - Lottery funded
  • Asda
  • Halifax
  • Streetclub

FAQs

It's never too late to organise your own get-together with your neighbours. Whether it’s a couple of homes getting together for a picnic or a full blown street party, anyone anywhere can organise a Big Lunch at any time of year. The key ingredients are people and food! To help get started why not check out our 5 easy steps for planning a Big Lunch.

You could also check out the Can do guide for community action film and the short, practical and fun guide which can be found here. This is drawn from real-life experiences of community groups and offers useful tips and pointers to further help on getting started, keeping the momentum going and dealing with both the myth and the reality of risk and red tape.

Thinking of closing your road for a street party? Check out our guide for some tips or find the answers in the FAQs below.

If you can’t find the information you’re looking for on this page, you can email us on info@thebiglunch.com.

About The Big Lunch

  • What is The Big Lunch?

    The Big Lunch is a very simple idea from the Eden Project. The aim is to get as many of the 63 million people in the UK as possible to have lunch with their neighbours for a few hours of community, friendship and fun. Since The Big Lunch started in 2009, thousands of Big Lunches have taken place in all kinds of communities - from street parties to community picnics, with tonnes of people taking part each year. A whopping 4.83 million people took part in The Big Lunch 1 June 2014!

  • What is Big Lunch Extras?
    Big Lunch Extras events are specially designed for community members, front runners and individuals wishing to start a community initiative or to take existing projects to the next level. The free residential weekends take place at the Eden Project, Cornwall, with follow-up master classes around the country.

    When you register for an event, they'll have a quick chat to make sure it's right for you. Find out more: http://www.thebiglunch.com/extras/about.php.
  • What has The Big Lunch got to do with the Eden Project?

    The Eden Project started The Big Lunch because it believes that we are better equipped to tackle the challenges that we face when we face them together. The Big Lunch is led by the Eden Project and funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

  • When is The Big Lunch?
    The Big Lunch usually takes place on the first Sunday of June but you can hold your event whenever works best for you and your community. The seventh annual Big Lunch will be on Sunday 7 June 2015.
  • When was the first Big Lunch held?

    The Eden Project started The Big Lunch in 2009. From humble beginnings in year one, the number of participants has continued to grow each year, with almost 5 million taking part in 2014.

  • What happened in 2014?

    The sixth annual Big Lunch took place on Sunday 1 June 2014 and was a huge success. Thousands of events, from street parties to gatherings in community centres, took place with bunting, games, food, competitions, music and dancing. An enormous 4.83 million people took part.

  • Will there be a Big Lunch next year?

    The Big Lunch has been running since 2009 and will continue to be an annual event for the foreseeable future; in fact we’d love The Big Lunch to become part of the nation’s annual calendar – like a ‘Thanksgiving’ for neighbours! The seventh annual Big Lunch will take place on Sunday 7 June 2015.
  • I live outside the UK; can I have a Big Lunch?

    Yes! In 2012 there were Big Lunches in over 70 countries from Tuvalu to Canada - it was a huge success! Our funding only enables us to post packs to UK residents but you can download a pack by emailing international@thebiglunch.com - and we always love hearing about international Big Lunches!

  • We’re an organisation; can we take part in or support The Big Lunch?

    Yes you can! If you want advice on how you could partner with The Big Lunch, please email us at info@thebiglunch.com.

  • How can my school get involved?

    Children, parents and teachers - The Big Lunch needs you! Schools can either hold their own Big Lunches, or help their pupils get ready for a local Lunch, for example, by making decorations and food, or growing veg. Lending chairs and equiptment to Big Lunches happening nearby is a handy help too. There are lots of ideas in our schools section.

  • Can I fundraise for charity at my Big Lunch?
    Yes, of course! Let us know how much you raise and we can share it with Big Lunchers across the UK.
  • What materials can you give me?
    You can download resources such as invites and posters from here. The Big Lunch 2015 packs will be released early next year. Keep updated with new materials in by signing up to our newsletter.

Planning your Lunch

  • What if there isn’t a Big Lunch planned in my area?

    Start your own! Perhaps find someone on the street who wants to come door-knocking with you to see who else wants to get involved. Or you could contact your local Neighbourhood/Home Watch scheme and see if they are interested in helping to get your community together for a Big Lunch. Click here to find a scheme near you.

  • Where do I start?

    A Big Lunch can be as big or small as you like, can take place anywhere, from street parties to school carparks, and involve anyone. Check out our five easy steps for organising your Big Lunch and have a look at the short, practical and fun Can do guide for community action here.

  • When should I start planning?

    Whenever you’re ready! It really depends on what you’ve got in mind. If you’re hoping to close your road for a street party then it’s a good idea to get on to your local council as early as possible, as some councils ask for up to 12 weeks’ notice. It’s also good to spark up interest within the community with a couple of months to spare so that people have time to get involved in the planning and organising with you.

  • Does it have to be a street party?

    Absolutely not. Many events in the first three years of The Big Lunch were little more than two or three homes getting together. Big Lunches have taken place in all sorts of locations, from Fire Stations to back gardens. If you live in England you can download a street party application form from the Department for Communities and Local Government. We'd still love to hear about your event as part of the UK-wide movement!

  • How much will it cost?

    Big Lunches don't need to be expensive. You could simply hold one in a garden, ask people to bring food, make your own decorations and borrow furniture.

    If you're up for a big bash, you could start a kitty with interested neighbours and set up a donations box on the day to recoup this cash, or even organise a raffle.

    Your council may ask you to pay fees for closing the road for a street party, however new guidance from Department for Communities and Local Government states that you are not required by law to pay a charge for closing your road (for small residential street parties in England) but some councils may need to cover the costs for admin and planning. You should ask your council what the charges are for.

  • Is there any funding available?

    Unfortunately The Big Lunch cannot fund events, but there are some grants or funds you can apply for. Why not take a look at our tips on how to have a Big Lunch on a budget.Try searching the internet for local funding opportunities – your council may also be able to help you. Remember that a lot of schemes will have early application deadlines and will require records of how the money was spent.

  • Do I need insurance?
    Your council may request that you take out Public Liability Insurance as you are closing public ground and are responsible for what happens. According to new guidance from Department for Communities and Local Government there is no requirement from central government to have Public Liability Insurance cover for a small residential street party (in England), however it is recommended that the organiser should check with their council if they need it.

    If you do need insurance then the following company offers specific Street Party Insurance: Event Insurance Services Street Parties. They have also put together some FAQs if you're unsure as to whether you need insurance.

    Join Your Square Mile, the UK’s first Citizen Mutual, for £10 and get free Public Liability Insurance and reduced Street Party Insurance for your Big Lunch. 

    PTA-UK and Neighbourhood Watch offer Public Liability Insurance cover as part of their membership, as long as The Big Lunch is a PTA or Neighbourhood Watch-run event.

    You may need a Temporary Events Notice if you plan to sell alcohol, ask you local council about this.

  • Are barbecues too risky from a health and safety point of view?
    Common sense applies. Set up your BBQ somewhere safe and have one chef in charge, not a free for all. It’s a good idea to have a first aider there on the day.
  • I'm worried about food hygiene, do we need a licence?

    Organising small, private street parties and community events should be simple and things like risk assessments, licenses and health and safety certificates are not normally required. Everyone involved in a Big Lunch should take responsibility for themselves and those preparing food should make sure they do so in a clean and hygienic environment. If you are planning a larger event that anyone can attend or if you are selling tickets to your event, then there may be other processes and requirements that you need to consider. Your local council will be able to advise you on this.

  • What will we sit on and eat off?
    You could use your own stools, chairs, crates and trestle tables. If you need to buy some more seating and tables, try eBay, Freecycle or Freegle for cheap/free options. You could even join a local lend 'n' borrow group, such as Streetclub, Ecomodo, or ask your local parish council, church or groups such as Scouts to share things you might need.
  • Do I need to close my street?

    Not at all! If you can’t close your road, you can hold your Lunch on any patch of land or any building such as a communal, private or pub garden, a local park, driveway, school playground, church, mosque, synagogue gurdwara or temple – wherever you want, as long as you have the relevant permissions. If you do want to close your road for a street party you will need to get in touch with the Highways Department at your local council to find out how to go about it. It’s best to do this as early as possible as some councils require up to 12 weeks’ notice.

    Your council may ask you to pay fees for closing the street, however new guidance from Department for Communities and Local Government states that you are not required by law to pay a charge for closing your road (for small residential street parties in England) but some councils may need to cover the costs for admin and planning. You should ask your council what the charges are for.

    If you have any problems with your council, please email us at info@thebiglunch.com as we may be able to help.

  • I'm having trouble closing my road, can you help?

    If you want to have a Big Lunch street party and you're having problems closing your road don’t fret, The Big Lunch team are also here to help you. Get in touch with one of the team on 0845 850 8181 or email info@thebiglunch.com.

  • Who is going to clean up after the Lunch?

    Try to plan ahead to share the tidying up duties, and, wherever possible, recycle or reuse what’s left over. Check out Love Food Hate Waste for extra tips.

  • Should I tell you about my event?

    Yes! If you’re having a Big Lunch we want to know. You can share your story with us by emailing it to yourstories@thebiglunch.com.

  • Should I take photos?

    Yes! We love to see the pictures from your Big Lunches! We like to share them on Facebook, Twitter and The Big Lunch blog and website to show others what a Big Lunch looks like. Please send your photos to photos@thebiglunch.com.

Big Lunch gallery

Two men enjoying a pint at a Big Lunch

See great photos of Big Lunches across the UK and beyond.

See the gallery

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