Comedian John Bishop joined a Big Lunch at the space2grow wellbeing garden in Farnham on Wednesday as part of the Month of Community which is all about celebrating local connections and supporting good causes.
The Big Lunch at space2grow gave John an opportunity to share how his Say Hello initiative is helping increase social connections.
Taking a tour of the project with its founder Lou James, he learned about their work, the volunteers and people who benefit from social and nature-based activities that create intergenerational connections.
The comedian chatted to members of the space2grow community including a parenting group, Farnham Men in Sheds, which brings men of all ages together to share skills and make new friends, volunteer gardeners and children from Potters Gate and St Andrew's Primary School who were decorating plant pots.
He also met local secondary school students from Weydon who were pond dipping and a group of students from Farnham Heath End School building a greenhouse made of recycled plastic bottles.
John, whose Say Hello initiative joined forces with The Big Lunch and Month of Community to encourage people to make new connections, welcomed local people to the Big Lunch to meet, chat and mingle using his Say Hello badges.
Around a hundred people took part in the Big Lunch including volunteers, school children, local supporters, funders and officials, all of whom value space2grow.
Timed at the midway point in the Month of Community, John took part to help to raise awareness of all the community and social initiatives that are part of it.
With both The Great Big Green Week and Loneliness Awareness Week currently underway and so much more to come, there is something for everyone to get involved in.
Loneliness is a subject close to John’s heart, with the comedian launching his ‘Say Hello’ campaign during his 2021 tour to encourage audience members to start conversations with one another.
John has since collaborated with The Big Lunch as part of the Month of Community, an idea from Eden Project Communities, who last year reported that more than 11 million of the people who took part felt less lonely.
The Month of Community runs throughout June to encourage people to be active within their own community, make new connections, celebrate good causes and help build stronger communities across the UK.
Reflecting on his visit, John Bishop said: “I’m really proud that Say Hello is part of the Month of Community, when I hope people up and down the country will maybe have a Big Lunch or just take the time to get chatting to people in their community.
"Let’s all put some welly into making connections, supporting each other and the causes we care about during the Month of Community. Appreciating the power of community and the warmth of human connections impresses upon me just how important this really is!”
Located on an acre of land donated back to the community by founder Lou James, space2grow held a Big Lunch to celebrate their success and thank the local people who have been involved in supporting all their activities.
These include intergenerational gardening sessions, nature and wellbeing sessions for children, parenting classes for local families and Farnham Men In Sheds, a collaboration with Farnham Maltings.
Lou James, founder of space2grow, said: “It’s been an absolute privilege to have John Bishop join us for this very special Big Lunch. Bringing everyone together and fostering stronger connections between people of all ages in the local community is at the heart of what we do at space2grow, and there’s no better time to all share some food and a good chat than during the Month of Community.
"Having John with us to help get the conversations started and celebrate the things we’ve achieved at space2grow has been amazing!”
The Big Lunch, running annually since 2009 thanks to support from The National Lottery, reports positive impacts felt by those taking part, including millions in charity fundraising, boosting community spirit, reducing loneliness and encouraging people to get more involved in voluntary work. Her Majesty The Queen has been patron of The Big Lunch since 2013.
Lindsey Brummitt, programme director at the Eden Project, which is behind The Big Lunch, said: “We’re really proud to play a part in the Month of Community, which is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the people and good causes that make our neighbourhoods so special.
"The Big Lunch is about making new connections and we know many communities go on to do more together – from socialising and sharing tools to creating community gardens. It’s been great to see how John Bishop’s Say Hello campaign has played a role in getting people chatting at The Big Lunch held here today.
"I’m always in awe of the brilliant work going on in our communities, and our time here at Space2grow reinforces how truly important that is.”
The Month of Community is a celebration of everyone and everything that make our communities great. With events and initiatives running throughout June including Volunteers’ Week, Carers Week, The Great Big Green Week, Refugee Week and Small Charity Week to name a few, it’s a chance to connect with neighbours, say cheers to volunteers, raise awareness of loneliness and say thank you to those around us.
As part of the Month of Community, The Big Lunch brings neighbours and communities together to share food and friendship, and to support and fundraise for the good causes they care about.