Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
A Big Eat on Your Street
The Big Lunch on Oakley Road by Ruth Martin
How many of us don't know the name of our next door neighbour? It is a sad, but ever growing fact that we are getting to know the people in our community less and less. There was a time when everyone knew everyone. We would say hello to the people we walked past down the street on our way to buy a paper and pint of milk; we would help out our neighbours with a faulty lightbulb, and we would invite each other round for lunch for a nice chat. Long gone are those days. Now we are in too much of a rush to get to work, or our neighbours are ever-changing tenants that we don't get a chance to get to know.
And what is the result? Vandalism, crime, a lack of community facilities? The Eden Project believe that to tackle problems in the community, you first have to have a community; the best way to progress and achieve goals is by working together.
That is why, in 2009, they came up with an idea called The Big Lunch. It is a very simple concept: get as many people in the UK having lunch together with their neighbours. Last year, the event coincided with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, and saw 8.5 million people taking part. There is always lots of celebrity support, and previous personalities have included Carol Smilie, Lynda Bellingham, Barbara Windsor, Boris Johnson, Levi Roots, and many others.
So how do you get started? The Big Lunch day is on the 2nd June, and If there isn't already one happening in your area, you can help organise one by requesting a starter pack There are then five simple steps to follow:
Party in the park?
You can hold your Big Lunch practically anywhere: in the park, on the street, your local school, church, or community centre. Even your back garden (depending on how big it is or how many guests you have).
Get the word out to everyone in the community. You can do this by downloading posters to advertise the event, and use social networking sites like FaceBook and Twitter.
Bake your own bread for the party.
Bake, buy, and share. Weather people prefer to make cakes and biscuits or go to the supermarket for cocktail sausages, and pork pies, you can keep costs down by asking everyone to contribute. One way of making sure everyone does not bring the same thing is to delegate the sweet and savoury snacks.
Or if someone has a portable barbecue, why not have a barbie on the streets?
4. Furniture & Decorations
Deck the streets with balloons and bunting to create a party atmosphere (it also makes the place easier to find), and ask people to bring chairs, tables, plates, and glasses. Remember, if each person brings their own chair, then you'll know everyone will have a place to sit.
The cheapest form of entertainment is to bring along a portable CD player, but you could also book a band, or even ask any willing locals to get up on stage.
Don't forget to take a few hula hoops or outdoor game sets for the kids (and grown ups).