A Small Lunch with BIG Results

June 22nd, 2015

Yesterday it finally happened, we had our Big Lunch after weeks of spreading the news and thinking about it we made it happen!  Debbie was my organising partner in The Big Lunch and is also the owner of The Deck– A wonderful place for tea and cake in Cardiff!  We were both really pleased we made it happen. This is a blog to tell you what our journey has been like and also to give you some tips on what we feel would have helped us and what we are going to do in the future.

On the whole I have loved the experience and also been a tiny bit nervous about it from time to time as I mentioned in my last blog.

Did you know that 86% of the UK workforce is disengaged at work?  That a lack of social interaction is as harmful of smoking 15 cigarettes a day?  As the leader of Turn Lights On I naturally had to get involved with The Big Lunch as it’s right up our street!  We (TLO) are a movement and a practice that tackles these issues by promoting human connection and supporting people to enjoy the here and now.

Some of The locals having a blast:

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So Here Are Our Findings And Tips…

Don’t Be A Hero 

Debbie and I are very busy people, both business owners, other projects on the go and families.  On reflection I think we needed to have more people involved in helping us arrange things.  There were times when I would have a busy day and think “Oh no! I haven’t knocked on doors” and have a feeling of letting the team down.  I reckon that if you are going to do a big lunch you should start by approaching some neighbours with the idea and ask if they want to help you to make it happen.  Two people driving it is probably possible but it’ll be way easier if there’s more of you on the team making it happen.  Together we are stronger!

Give yourself plenty of time

Give people lots of notice then check in with them.  I think a month before is good however I suppose everyone is different. I spoke to people about a month before the lunch and they seemed really keen however I didn’t get to remind them and they didn’t come. I think finding a way to get lots of engagement would help.

Check the calendar

In our wisdom we organised our Big Lunch on Fathers Day!  Great for people who didn’t have plans. Our planning did mean that some people really wanted to come but couldn’t due to Dad commitments.


When I was knocking doors I was speaking to lots of people saying…Do you know anyone on the street you could ask? Asking Children if they play with other children on the street so they can ask a friend.  You don’t have to be the only way people find out!

Be Clear

When you mention about the big lunch at first people go through a process, first they think you are selling something and naturally guarded.  Then have a few minutes to get into rapport and build trust, making sure I showed my neighbors where I lived, my name and why I was organising the lunch.  My script easy:

  • Hi My Name is George,
  • I live across the street,
  • I have lived here 2 years and I’m ashamed to say I don’t know many of my neighbours so we’re arranging a Big Lunch.

Then I would explain about the lunch and explain it’s about sharing a meal or a cuppa together to put some names to faces.  It inspired lots of conversation and I really loved my chats.  Be clear that this is not a lunch that is being put on for people.  Promote contribution, if they let you know that that’s tricky (maybe the expense of it) let them know that they’re still welcome to come along!  Smile, really be in that moment and questions ‘How long have you lived on the street?’ and ‘Do you know anyone on the street?’ the more conversation and connection the better.

Start Off Small

Debbie and I decided not to close the road as we felt that we wouldn’t get the numbers (A week before we were unsure if anyone would turn up – that’s normal!) then we stopped and reminded ourselves that the right people will come.  It’s not about quantity it’s about connection and making quality connections I can safely say that happened.  I know that year by year it will grow and if it doesn’t I’m happy to have the same experience next year as it was a truly lovely lunch.

The Big Lunch:

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So would we do it again? Hell Yes! At the end of the lunch Debbie and I high fived our lovely sense of achievement.  Be it a small gathering it was filled with people who really had fun, it was like meeting up for a coffee with friends.  On a personal level I feel I have really benefited.  I’ve got to know my next door neighbours really well.  We have been to each other apartments for drinks and nibbles and we have plans to spend more time together.  They have a dog Bailey (pictured just below!) and I have said I can help out with walking, etc.  I’m just so happy I have got to know them as it was always just a “Hi, how are you?” on the stairs to now it’s a good 10 minute conversation.

My Neighbours and Bailey the Dog:

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So I hope my tips are useful and if you want a chat about arranging a big lunch drop me a line on [email protected].  

Remember if we want things to change we have to be the change.  If we want less loneliness and disconnection we have a choice to connect and The Big Lunch is certainly a great way to do that!

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