Page last updated at 13:29 GMT, Sunday, 19 July 2009 14:29 UK

Bunting out for big British lunch

Street party in Walthamstow, east London
Partygoers in east London say their community has always been strong

A series of street parties and picnics are being held up and down the country, to encourage people to get to know their neighbours better.

The Big Lunch, the idea of Eden Project founder Tim Smit and Paul Twivy, aims to encourage millions of people to share food, drink and conversation.

They believe our neighbourhoods are "the biggest untapped source of happiness we possess".

Leeds, Glasgow and even Number 10 Downing Street are hosting picnics.

Organisers hope to see the largest number of street parties since the Silver Jubilee in 1977.

'Break bread'

Sarah Trivuncic, 36, who helped organise a street party for more than 45 households in Walthamstow, east London, said it was great to see the whole community pull together.

She told the BBC: "We've got about 120 people here, pretty much everyone's turned out. There's lots of food, everyone's brought their barbecues into the street and we got some discounted sausages from the local butcher.

Silver Jubilee street party
Britain could be heading for the highest number of street parties since 1977

"We've got a beach scene and some of the children are wearing Hawaiian garlands and grass skirts. There's an egg and spoon race later and somebody else donated home-brewed beer."

She said they managed to close their street to traffic and get all the cars out of the road.

"I already know lots of my neighbours and it makes me scared to move away in case I don't get that again. Everyone who lives here really values it," she said.

"You hear people saying they don't know their neighbours anymore, but that doesn't apply in this street. It's important."

Mr Smit said: "Imagine a summer's day on which millions of us, throughout the UK, sit down to have lunch together with our neighbours: in the middle of our streets, around our tower blocks and on every patch of common ground.

"The food, entertainment, music and decorations we will have grown, cooked, or created ourselves.

"This will be a day to break bread with our neighbours, to put a smile on Britain's face."

Mr Twivy, chief executive of the Big Lunch, added: "The way to tackle this recession and global warming is through human warming."

Big picnics are taking place in nine venues including London's Regent's Park, Roundhay Park in Leeds and Glasgow's Kelvingrove Park.

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