150 country families ‘rapidly’ get involved in community picnics

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A hundred and fifty local families from Park, Claudy, Strathfoyle, Newbuildings and Eglinton took part in a series of Teddy Bears’ picnic ‘Big Lunches’ organised by the Rural Area Partnership in Londonderry (Rapid NI) recently.

Mary McNicholl, from Rapid NI, said: “In total we had 165 families attend the events and we have received some fantastic feedback from parents about how much they enjoyed them.

“In some areas, we had to hold two lunches as the demand was so great. We wanted to encourage parent/child interaction at the events and achieved this through story telling sessions, songs and rhymes, arts and crafts and also Zumba lessons for parents and their children.

“The Big Lunch was a fantastic way to bring the local communities together for a fun family event and helped to promote community engagement within rural areas.”

The Big Lunch, is an idea from the Eden Project, made possible by the Big Lottery Fund, that aims to get as many people as possible to have lunch with their neighbours in a simple act of community, friendship and fun.

Big Lunches can be in your back garden, your street, or in a large public space. Some are barbecues, some picnics, they can involve a handful of people right up to huge gatherings. The participation figures are remarkable - last year there were hundreds of Big Lunches across NI with tens of thousands of people taking part. Across the whole of the UK more than 7.3 million people were involved.

Grainne McCloskey, partnership manager for The Big Lunch Northern Ireland, said: “It is great to see another year’s worth of Big Lunches taking place, bringing so many people together in fun and friendship. The benefits for our local communities are enormous and I want to congratulate everyone who helped organise a Big Lunch.”

Joanne McDowell, from The Big Lottery Fund, said: “We are delighted to continue our support of The Big Lunch. It has had a really positive impact on communities across Northern Ireland and we are looking forward to seeing the difference it will make to people once again.”