Sunday, June 3, 2018 - 15:30

The Eden Project hosted a Big Lunch for members of its health and community groups today (Sunday June 3).

This is the first time that Eden, which has organised the Big Lunch nationally since 2009, has hosted one of the gatherings itself.

An idea from the Eden Project and made possible by The National Lottery, the event now attracts millions of people and is the UK’s biggest get-together for neighbours. Last year more than 9 million people took part in more than 96,000 events.

Today's Big Lunch at Eden was attended by members of the project's social prescribing groups, including walking groups which aim to improve the health of people with conditions such as diabetes or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).

Joining them was the Eden Lunch Club, which is designed to tackle loneliness among older people.

Around 45 people gathered in the sunshine at Eden and ate lunch together in the project's orchard area in the heart of the outdoor gardens.

Some people walked the 5-mile route from Treverbyn on the Clay Trails to meet at Eden, while others tackled gentler routes around the Eden gardens.

Val and Steve, who walked in from Treverbyn, said: "This is a lovely idea because it gets people who wouldn't ordinarily be out and about to walk together. It's lovely to arrive at Eden at the finish too."

Virginia, who walked at Eden, said: "It's been a beautiful, happy day."

Frida from the diabetes walking group said: "We've seen fantastic scenery with fantastic company and had lots of laughter."

The Big Lunch at the Eden Project was one of thousands taking place around the country today.

The Big Lunch is a simple idea - for a few hours once a year, neighbours come together to share food, build friendships and have fun where they live.

Comedian Jo Brand and TV presenter Ainsley Harriott joined a Big Lunch celebration in Hackney in London today as more than 100 residents of Farleigh Road swung open their doors for their tenth annual Big Lunch, bringing together a diverse group of people from across different generations, cultures and backgrounds.

Jo Brand said: “It’s so heartening to see events like this taking place. There’s such a mix of people just having a chat and a bite to eat. Everyone’s nattering about what’s going on in the neighbourhood and how they can help each other. This is what communities should be like. We’re all so busy these days that I think we’ve forgotten how to be good neighbours.”

Ainsley Harriott agreed: “As a kid I remember being in and out of my neighbours houses all the time, but we seemed to have lost that culture along the way. It’s sad to think that you can live next door to someone for years and barely know their name. That’s why it’s so reassuring that millions of people are getting together on the same day to show that community spirt is getting stronger across the UK.”

Peter Stewart of the Eden Project is delighted with the UK’s response to The Big Lunch. He said: “Every year it keeps getting bigger as more and more people realise the importance of community and the benefit of knowing their neighbours. We know that when people come together good things happen and that is what The Big Lunch is all about. We’re thrilled to see so many people across the UK joining in and having fun as we know The Big Lunch helps to build happier and more resilient communities.”