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Third of Britons think community spirit is dying out

The Big Lottery Fund has announced a four-year collaboration with the Eden Project to expand its work bringing local communities together.

The £7.8m funding will support two projects – The Big Walk and The Big Lunch.

The announcement comes as research from the Big Lottery fund shows that a third of people in the UK feel that community spirit is dying out. While 65% of people interviewed said that their area had a strong sense of community, only 41% felt the same about the UK as a whole. Almost a third of people said that the UK’s community spirit only comes out in a crisis.

The Big Lunch has been run by Eden Project Communities since 2009 and invites neighbours to sit down to lunch together on a Sunday in June. The Big Walk takes place in the run-up to the Big Lunch, with participants walking back to their communities in time for the event, visiting projects along the way.

The research found that three-quarters of people say being part of their community was important to them, but less than a third were actively involved. The Big Walk and the Big Lunch hope to shift that by making it easy for people to participate in their community.

Dawn Austwick, chief executive of the Big Lottery Fund, said: ‘We’re excited to be working with the Eden Project to create new opportunities across the UK for people to build connections, spark friendships and lay the foundations that enable communities to thrive.’

Research by the Eden Project put the cost of disconnected communities in the UK at £32bn a year, taking into account the impact on health and wellbeing, lower productivity and crime.

Peter Stewart, Eden Project’s executive director, said: ‘It’s concerning that while people clearly value being part of a strong community many are still not actively participating, despite the economic and social benefits it would bring.

‘We want more people to feel connected to their community, but also for more communities to connect and build mutual understanding and support. This is what The Big Walk and The Big Lunch are all about and it’s great to see National Lottery money playing such a key role in bringing people together in such a positive and impactful way.’

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