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Talking with neighbours makes people feel happier

6 May 2014

The Big Lunch study found how taking time to talk can make a difference to lonely lives

With more and more of us living alone and an increase in communication via e-mail and text, people are feeling lonely. Research by The Big Lunch – the UK’s annual get together for neighbours – has found that people think the simple act of chatting with your neighbour is not only a way to ‘brighten someone’s day’ (34%) but as a ‘lifeline’ for those who live alone (30%).

Big Lunch

The study of 2,000 adults, found that for more than one in twenty, talking with a neighbour is one of the highlights of their day. Over a quarter say it makes them feel that they matter and are less invisible and two-thirds of people said it makes them feel happier.

Paul Selby’s street in Manchester has been holding Big Lunches since the beginning in 2009. Paul, from Brooklands Home Watch & Residents Association commented “We have found that The Big Lunch has helped us create a better place to live, our children know each other, and there is a sense of belonging and caring about the place we all call home.”

Lisa Claire in Canterbury stepped in to prevent an elderly neighbour, Joyce, going into a care home when she found out she was struggling to manage her house and garden by herself. Lisa offered to help and by giving just one hour a week for simple chores, Joyce was able to stay in the home she has lived in and loved for fifty years. Lisa said, “This is why I think that things like The Big Lunch are crucial – it’s not just about having lunch together (although that is very nice!), it’s also about developing a sense of community and being able to be there for each other. In this day and age I think it is easy for people to feel isolated, especially if they live alone but this is a way of lessening that isolation and is therefore in my opinion extremely important.”

Big Lunch at Ledbury Estate, Old Kent Road

The small talk that happens in communities is a lifeline for many and The Big Lunch is calling on everyone in the UK to boost the conversations happening in streets and gardens nationwide. Chatty neighbours are being encouraged to host a Big Lunch event in their communities on Sunday 1 June to spread small talk further and build community bonds.

Anyone interested in organising a Big Lunch can request a free Big Lunch pack from to get their events off the ground. Packs contain invitations and posters to adapt for your community, as an inspiration booklet with lots of ideas and info to help get you started and much more.


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