Good Causes

The only Way is Upton thanks to Raminder’s Big Lunches

When Raminder Jaswal began working from home in 2020 she was hit by a stark realisation: few people on her street knew each other.

Raminder, 45, said, “We live on Upton Way in Poole, a really long road with about 100 houses. Before the pandemic you might bump into a neighbour now and then but that was about it.”

The lack of community spirit in the street was underlined when Raminder started an Upton Way WhatsApp group to support people through the lockdowns. She soon discovered quite a few elderly neighbours were struggling with loneliness and isolation.

After taking part in a virtual community workshop run by the Eden Project, Raminder decided a Big Lunch was just what Upton Way needed.

The Big Lunch – an event supported by National Lottery players who raise over £30Million a week for good causes – brings millions of people together every year to share friendship, fun and food with their neighbours. Her Majesty The Queen Consort has been Patron of The Big Lunch since 2013 and over the Coronation long weekend people across the country will mark the occasion by hosting special Coronation Big Lunches.

Raminder admits she felt completely out of her comfort zone when she set out to organise her first Big Lunch held in May 2020. She said, “I was expecting about 40 people, but in the end about 120 came. I wrote to the council and got part of the road closed on the day and I felt really proud of the result. It was a great celebration, a chance to meet up and build community.”

Upton Way rose to the occasion. Everyone brought food to share and someone pushed an old motorbike into the street for people to sit on. There was a barbeque and a group photo commemorating the day.

More importantly perhaps, that first Big Lunch has had a lasting impact. Raminder said, “There are people I know now, that I wouldn’t have known if it wasn’t for the Big Lunch. There are some ex teachers in the street who are helping my kids with their studies and some elderly people who come to a charity coffee and cake event I hold in my garden.

“Everyone’s a lot more connected now. When we meet in the street we have a conservation – we’ll stop and talk. We know each other's names and we know which house people live in. They’re little things, but really important.”

Raminder is really looking forward to Upton Way’s Coronation Big Lunch on Sunday 7th May 2023. She said, “We’re having it the day after the Coronation because a lot of elderly people wanted to watch the actual ceremony at home.”

This year, the event is billed as a tea party. There will be games and a make-a-crown competition and Raminder is hoping to get a fire engine to turn up for the kids.

She said, “It’s going to be all about getting together and chatting. I just hope it’s a gorgeous day.”

Find out how to organise your own Big Lunch here.

2nd May 2023

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