Neighbourly activities like The Big Lunch are crucial to our communities. They generate a feeling of connection and warmth between people and engender a sense of shared purpose that supports society and builds resilience.  In this blog, Tracey Robbins, Community Programme Delivery Manager for The Big Lunch, tells us about their new “Human Warming Index”.

Human warmth is what happens when people get to know their neighbours, relationships grow and friendships blossom. The Big Lunch wanted to capture a nationwide picture to show how people are working to connect their communities; a map that conveyed a friendship heatwave moving across the county! So we compiled Big Lunch pack registrations datafor the past 5 years to map what we call a ‘Human Warming Index’.

The map shows us that people are working hard to come together and are ready to address the challenges our future holds. It visualises the desires of people living in villages, towns and cities – to reach out and connect with others. It should alert us to the fact that anyone can step forward and take action.

A disconnected individual harms us all. Loneliness harms our neighbourhoods and communities, but rather than looking at it as an issue that affects individuals, we need to look at how it affects the places where we live and think about what we as neighbours can do about it. That is why the Big Lunch is becoming an increasingly popular choice for so many. The Big Lunch offers individuals and communities a way to come out of the cold, into a place of friendship and warmth.

We want to see the number of Big Lunches increase, because we know as a result loneliness and isolation reduces. Post Big Lunch research showed that in 2015* 85% of Big Lunch participants said it made them feel better about their neighbourhoods, and that 8 out of 10 people have since kept in touch with people they met at Big Lunches in previous years. The aim of The Big Lunch is to bring neighbours together to help make their communities friendlier and better connected places to live.

Much thought, research and campaigning have happened over the years to raise the awareness of mental health, isolation, exclusion,  loneliness and the damage they can cause to anyone, at any age but especially older people. I’m aware that JUNE is in fact one of the loneliest times for older people. All this knowledge and research is irrelevant unless we as individuals, as humans, reach out and reconnect.

Marcus Rand of Campaign to End Loneliness said:

“Holding a big lunch or doing something with your neighbours is a great starting point to turning the tide on loneliness. It’s vital we all play our part in reducing loneliness in our communities. Shockingly 10% of people who are over 65 feel lonely all of the time, and the summer months are no different. In fact, a study by Brunel University concluded that older people are more likely to feel lonely in the summer months than in December or March, so the timing of The Big Lunch Friendship heatwave couldn’t be better!”

With this in mind, I would encourage everyone to get to know their neighbours, reconnect with those young and old. Join a movement of people creating warmth in our communities and help us create the Big Lunch #BLHeatwave.

Don’t wait – sign up now!