The Big Lunch, 3rd June 2018 – tackling loneliness by bringing people together over food

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

With new research showing that just four in ten of us (42%) sit down to Sunday lunch every week, Eden Project Communities is urging communities from across the UK to “Reclaim Sunday Lunch” and use it to bring communities closer together and tackle loneliness and isolation.

The research also showed that:
  • 6 in 10 of us (60%) sat down to Sunday lunch more often as a child than we do now
  • 17% of us now have Sunday lunch less than once every two months, while one in ten of us (10%) admits to never having Sunday lunch

However, many of us still recognise the benefits of communal eating with two thirds (66%) agreeing Sunday Lunch is about getting together with loved ones. Three quarters (77%) say that the food is one of the key ingredients for a successful Sunday lunch while 71% say that the people we eat with are key. Almost half (47%) say that good conversation is critical while 29% say that it needs to be fun.

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 people in the UK across all adult ages – more than the population of London – are either always or often lonely, and a poll earlier this year highlighted that 83% of us wouldn’t recognise all our neighbours in a police line-up and the majority of us have a stronger sense of belonging to our workplace (60%) than our neighbourhood (48%).

That’s why Eden Project Communities is calling for all of us to reclaim Sunday Lunch and bring it bang up to date as a chance to get together – with who we want, when we want and eating and drinking whatever they fancy.

We can then join millions of others across the UK and sit down to have a different type of Sunday lunch in our community 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

Speaking about the research, Peter Stewart, Executive Director at the Eden Project said:

We are a really diverse society with lots of different rituals and lifestyles and the traditional Sunday Lunch simply hasn’t kept up. We lead busy lives and these days there seem to be fewer opportunities for us to get together and enjoy the simple pleasures of good food and great company.

In a world of catch-up TV, social media and YouTube, it’s easy to connect online and this can lead to less face to face contact with the people around us. The key ingredient of a successful Sunday lunch – just like The Big Lunch – is not actually the day it’s held on, or even what you eat, but simply the chance to get together and share food with people.”

Charlie Whewell, a committed Big Lunch organiser from Bedford, has seen the impact of bringing people in his community together for good food and a chat:

We’ve been running The Big Lunch since it started and it’s really been a catalyst for the great vibe that’s been created in our community. We keep in contact via our Facebook page, like an up-to-date version of the way communities used to work with people helping each other out. People use it to offer up old bikes instead of taking them to the tip, or ask if they can borrow a carrot.

The Big Lunch was a great way to get us all together and start this off, and we often stay out there into the evening so it is a bit like a Sunday lunch – we’re even thinking of having that as our theme this year… bring on the mini Yorkshire puddings!

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. Research conducted by The Eden Project last year found that 76 per cent of people that joined a Big Lunch felt closer to their neighbours as a result, with 79 per cent socialising more with people in their community*.

Joe Ferns, Director of Funding at the Big Lottery Fund, says:

Whether two people or two hundred, the act of sitting down together to eat and talk is important for individuals, 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.

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

About The Big Lunch
  • The Big Lunch ( is the UK’s annual get together for neighbours, an idea from the Eden Project made possible by The National Lottery.
  • This year, The Big Lunch will be held on Sunday 3 June.
  • The Big Lunch started in 2009 with the belief that we’re better equipped to tackle the challenges we face when we face them together. Last year over 9.3 million people took part in over 96,000 events across the UK.
  • Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall, is Patron of The Big Lunch.
  • 2018 is set to be the biggest year yet as we invite people across the Commonwealth to celebrate connections and host a Commonwealth Big Lunch between 12 March ad 22 April in the run up to The Big Lunch in June.
  • The Big Lunch is the perfect recipe for having fun with neighbours, feeding community spirit and helping to build stronger neighbourhoods. People are the key ingredient, with those taking part creating friendlier communities in which they start to share more – from conversation and ideas to skills and resources.
  • It is never too late to take part in The Big Lunch. Anyone can request a FREE planning pack, which contains a guide to get you started, invitations, posters and stickers at or by calling 0845 850 8181 to speak to one of the team.
  • The Big Lunch can be found @edencommunities on Facebook and Twitter and #thebiglunch #CommonwealthBigLunch #NationalLottery.