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Great news for neighbours as Derby gets a taste for The Big Lunch

A local community project brought together hundreds of people in Derby this weekend to take part in The Big Lunch and to celebrate receiving almost £170,000 in new National Lottery funding.

A recent report* from Eden showed that one in five people in the UK (20%) have never spoken to their neighbours and the same amount would have no one in their neighbourhoods to call on if they need help.

Local group, Green Thyme, helped reverse this trend by holding their own Big Lunch in Normanton Park on Sunday (23 June). 300 local people gathered to enjoy a picnic together, sparking conversations and connections to build a stronger community. They also used the special occasion to celebrate Green Thyme’s new National Lottery grant, which will help continue to bring communities in Derby together for years to come.

This funding will go towards transforming an un-used building at Normanton Park into a community hub, where there will be pottery sessions, afternoon teas and history talks about the park. The group already run a thriving allotment site, with therapeutic gardening sessions for people with complex needs and school visits where children learn how to grow fruit and vegetables.

Margaret Beckett MP and Vijay Kumari from TNLCF presenting Green Thyme with a cheque

Local resident, Will Hodgkinson, 53, who attended the event, recently said: 

“I came along to Green Thyme’s Big Lunch as it was something to do on a Sunday afternoon. I’ve enjoyed meeting people and I feel more connected to my local community after attending.”

Local resident, Abi Vadolia, 43, also enjoyed Green Thyme’s celebration. She recently said: 

“I think it’s really important to be part of the community. I’ve really enjoyed coming along to the park in nice weather and seeing all the people. Events like this remind me that we are a community and that there’s a community out there.”

Maria MacDonald, Founding Member at Green Thyme, recently said: 

“It was fantastic to be involved with The Big Lunch, giving us the opportunity to bring diverse communities together to interact, enjoy each other’s company and celebrate our local area. We can’t wait to continue this work with our new National Lottery funding, where we’ll hold plenty of activities that encourage chatter and friendships, building community spirit.”

Rt. Hon. Dame Margaret Beckett, MP for Derby South, who attended Green Thyme’s Big Lunch, recently said: 

“It was great to attend this community event and see neighbours coming together to get to know each other better. I was impressed to hear about the excellent work that Green Thyme does to empower the local community to learn new skills and meet new friends. I’m looking forward to seeing their work continue with the National Lottery funding.”

Matt Poole, Senior Head of Regional Funding for the Midlands at The National Lottery Community Fund, recently said: 

“When people get together amazing things can happen and communities are able to thrive. The Big Lunch is about fun, food and friendship, but what we know is that the connections made are the building blocks for friendlier, safer and stronger communities. This is why we are proud to use National Lottery funding to support Green Thyme, who helped bring community spirit to Derby this weekend and will continue to make a great difference in the future.”

The Big Lunch is an idea from Eden made possible by The National Lottery. It takes place in June every year and is about people sitting down to eat, drink and chat with their neighbours. Whether it’s a lunch, an evening meal or a cuppa and a slice of cake, people have the opportunity to socialise - strengthening friendships and reducing loneliness.

Across the UK as a whole, over six million people take part in The Big Lunch each year with more than 4.5 million new connections made last year alone. To find out more about The Big Lunch visit

The National Lottery Community Fund is the largest funder of community activity in the UK and distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. Last year it awarded over half a billion pounds and supported over 11,000 projects across the UK for health, education, environment and charitable purposes. To find out more visit

Notes to Editors

*The report, Closing the Distance Between Us, is an online survey of 4,070 adults living in the United Kingdom. It was commissioned on behalf of The Big Lunch and conducted by market research company, OnePoll.

About The Big Lunch

  • This year The Big Lunch took place on the weekend of 1st and 2nd of June.
  • The Big Lunch is an idea from the Eden Project made possible by The National Lottery.
  • Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall is Patron of The Big Lunch.
  • The Big Lunch brings people together. On average 6 million people meet to share food and fun every year.
  • It’s an initiative run by the Eden Project Communities team who connect people and communities across the UK, encouraging everyday people to make positive change where they live.
  • The Eden Project started The Big Lunch in 2009 with the belief that we’re better equipped to tackle the challenges we face when we face them together.
  • The Big Lunch enables UK communities to fundraise for the things that matter to them, with £8m raised in 2018 of which over £6m was donated to local causes.
  • Free starter packs, tips and ideas can be found at or call 0845 850 8181 to speak to our team.
  • The Big Lunch can be found @edencommunities on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram #thebiglunch.

About The National Lottery Community Fund

We are the largest funder of community activity in the UK – we’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Since June 2004, we have made over 200,000 grants and awarded over £9 billion to projects that have benefited millions of people.

We are passionate about funding great ideas that matter to communities and make a difference to people’s lives. At the heart of everything we do is the belief that when people are in the lead, communities thrive. Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, our funding is open to everyone. We’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life.

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