Volunteers in a north-east village have joined forces with local groups to put on a free lunch to help tackle rural loneliness.
New Deer is taking part in the 2019 Big Lunch – a project that aims to bring people together to curb isolation and create a better connected community.
The village’s community association is combining it with the Eat Well, Age Well initiative and is hosting a free lunch at the Mustard Seed on Sunday July 28, particularly for elderly locals.
A recent survey showed that only one in five people know who their neighbours are, which, it has been suggested, can be damaging to mental and physical health.
Six million people took part in the Big Lunch across the UK last year with the ambition of bringing people together to eradicate isolation.
Local resident and community association member, Tanita Addario is one of those organising the lunch and she is hoping it can provide an opportunity for people to take time out of their busy lives to meet and chat to others.
She said: “The Big Lunch is a chance to sit down with people we live alongside, but rarely have the time to talk to.
“It’s all about bringing people together and sharing conversations when you share food.
“We’ve put 200 invites out, there are more to go, so we are hoping for a good turn-out.
“I want it to be like the time when people would go out and share lunch with their neighbours in the street.
“We have quite a lot of older people in the village and we hope that this can help with mental health and tackle isolation. That’s what the Big Lunch ethos is all about.”
With support from the National Lottery’s Community Small Ideas, Big Impact grant scheme, volunteers will be serving soup and sandwiches followed by strawberries, home-made meringues and cream – locally sourced wherever possible.
Donations of food will also be accepted on the day with leftovers shared between residents.
One of those involved in the organising said: “This is a first for the village and we worry that people will be suspicious.
“But there is such thing as a free lunch and, thanks to Tanita, it is actually happening.”
For those wishing to attend New Deer’s Big Lunch from noon to 2pm on July 28 in the Mustard Seed, call Susan Fowlie on 01771 644251 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.