Londoner Carole Wright embarks on 170-mile epic trip across England to bring neighbours together


A community gardener from London is embarking on a journey to walk through 17 towns and cities in England to invite as many people as she can to lunch.

Between May 17 and June 2 she will walk at least 10 miles a day passing through Oxford, Swindon, Derby, Birmingham, The West Midlands and Northampton, encouraging as many people as possible to have lunch with their neighbours.

She is taking on the challenge as part of The Big Lunch community walk, an idea from The Eden Project, made possible by The National Lottery.

Earlier this year The Big Lunch conducted a 4,000 strong Onepoll survey that showed three quarters (72%) of the UK population don’t feel they know their neighbours well and 1 in 5 don’t even know their neighbours’ names. This inspired Carole, a keen community activist, to step out and spread her views on the benefits of knowing the people you live closest to.

Five years ago Carole Wright from South London was so fed up with the tarmac area outside her block of flats not being used that she decided to set up community garden. Following the introduction of a few simple flowerbeds, a communal shed and a water tank, the space is now the heart of the inner-city estate

“The garden is a space outside of the flats where people can come and grow, learn, chat, swap seeds, talk about gardening but also talk about anything else that is going on with them” she explains. “Being in an inner city area it is crucial to have community projects. Many people don’t have family around them here, so it has become a way of checking in on people and making sure they’re ok. We notice in the garden if people aren’t around and we notice an absence. And we can check in on people. When one older man on the estate wasn’t seen all day the neighbours got together and called the police. Thankfully it turned out ok but the man cried when he realised people were looking out for him. He’d worried that if something happened to him no one would know.”

Throughout her 17 day journey she will visit communities, meeting and chatting with people to shine a light on the positive impact of neighbourhood activities, and inviting everyone to come together for The Big Lunch on 1 & 2 June.

Signalling a step change in efforts to increase community connection, Peter Stewart Executive Director, Eden Project said:  “Our amazing walkers are heading out to connect with people at the heart of the UK’s communities and inviting everyone to take a simple step to come together for a Big Lunch. We know there is appetite to close the distance and get to know each other better, so why wait? Join the fun with The Big Lunch on 1and 2 June!”

An idea from the Eden Project, made possible by the National Lottery, The Big Lunch is about millions of people getting together to share food and get to know each other better.  Every year, over 6 million people take to their streets, gardens and neighbourhoods to join in for a few hours of community, friendship and fun on 1 and 2 June.