WITH nearly 60% of Scots saying they are anxious about socialising without restrictions, this year's Big Lunch could prove the way to ease people back into social interactions.

The annual UK-wide event is calling for people to continue the community spirit generated during lockdown by hosting lunch between neighbours.

Held on June 5 and 6, the Big Lunch calls on people to share food and have fun as they get to know one another.

For 2021, given ongoing coronavirus restrictions, organisers say events can be held any weekend in June.

Glasgow top chef Brian Maule has shared a recipe exclusively with Glasgow Times readers to give them menu inspiration (see below).

But one of the senior Big Lunch organisers says her main focus of the day will be cake, cake and more cake.

Sophie Bridger, Country Manager (Scotland) for the Eden Project, spoke to the Glasgow Times about this year's Big Lunch.

She said: "We have always felt that this was important but after more than a year of lockdown we want to tackle the sense of isolation many people are feeling after that time.

"It's a great chance to get to know our neighbours over some food.

"It can be really hard to reach out to people we don't know and as a society we are quite private and we don't like to intrude on people.

"But people often really love it when you strike up a conversation.

"We don't have a reason to talk to people, but with Big Lunch it makes it easy just to say to your neighbours, 'I pass you in the tenement close but I don't know who you are,'and then have a low pressure opportunity to come together and have lunch."

Big Lunch is this year encouraging participants to be mindful of covid safety and urges people to have lunch outside.

The Scottish weather might not be the best for dining al fresco but after a year of outdoor socialising, we're all more used to bringing a brolly or persevering with a hood up.

Brian Maule

Brian Maule

Sophie said: "We have all started making connections with our neighbours during lockdown and started to get to know people and started to care more and feel part of a community.

"If you think these things matter, you have to keep them alive - and Big Lunch can also help do that.

"I held my first Big Lunch last year during that spell when restrictions were eased.

"I met new people who lived in my building and we struck up a conversation because of the Big Lunch.

"For me, it's all about cake - I'll be hosting this year's in the back garden with a big cake."

Big Lunch surveyed 4000 residents and found that a high percentage are worried about increasing social pressure now that lockdown measures are beginning to lift.

The survey showed 26% of Scottish people are worried about their ability to readjust to normal levels of social interaction again

Around 66% of people in Scotland are worried about visiting crowded places, and

And Scots are divided on physical contact with half saying they feel confident and comfortable with the idea of hugging once restrictions are lifted and the other half planning to keep their distance

The Big Lunch aims to bring people together to engage with each other and help to build more resilient, better connected communities.

As he shared his recipe with readers, Brian said: "Food has the power to connect people no matter who you are or where you come from, so when The Big Lunch asked me to support this year’s campaign I was delighted to accept.

"There’s no doubt that everyone, including all of us in the hospitality industry, have had a challenging time over the past year so to see a charity like The Big Lunch encouraging Scottish communities to get together safely to support each other is really incredible.

"To show my support, I thought it would be a great idea to share one of my most loved recipes to encourage you to cook and share with your friends, family or community at your own Big Lunch - I hope you find the dish as delicious as I do."

Last year saw the event go virtual for the first time ever, however as the world slowly starts to return to some type of normality over the coming months, The Big Lunch is encouraging anyone and everyone to get together digitally or, in real life to unite in a nationwide act of community friendship.

The research conducted in April 2021 suggests high levels of re-entry anxiety and concerns about our ability to socialise as we come out of our third lockdown period.

However, despite 64% of UK respondents worrying about socialising with large groups or in crowded places, one of the positives is that 70% of the Scottish population are comfortable meeting smaller groups locally for picnics or community BBQs.

Despite a high percentage of the population worried about socialising post lockdown, more than 25 million of us in the UK feel relieved at the idea we’ll be able to socialise without restrictions in the coming months and 30 per cent actively excited at the prospect.

The Big Lunch, an idea from the Eden Project, funded by The National Lottery and Iceland Foods, attracts millions of people across the UK each year.

Last year for the first time in its 12-year history, the event was moved online to adhere to covid lockdown measures. Over 4 million people took part in The Big ‘Virtual’ Lunch, with events running online, on the phone and on the doorstep.

This year especially, there are more reasons than ever to get together.

Join in on The Big Lunch on June 5 and 6 and find more information at www.thebiglunch.com

Lockdown Recipe 6 Pan-Fried Scallops, Creamed Leeks & Bacon Crumb

Serves 4

16 – 20 Scallops 100g breadcrumb

2 Leeks 1 bunch curly parsley

¼ pint double cream 20g unsalted butter

8 - 10 rashers bacon olive oil

salt ( to season)


· Starting with the leeks, cut in half and slice thinly

· Wash then cook in boiling salted water for a few minutes.

· Refresh in iced salted water. When cold drain and squeeze out excess water.

· Put ¼ pint double cream into a pan, bring to the boil, turn down the heat, then reduce down until thick consistency.

· Pick, wash and dry the parsley, then chop finely.

· Put the bacon on a tray and bake in the oven at a low heat until cooked

· Take out, dry, then chop.

· Get a frying pan, put on the heat, add butter to melt, then add the breadcrumbs, fry until golden.

· Fold in the bacon and parsley.

· With the scallop, take the coral part, slice off, making sure the scallop is clean all around.

· Add the leek to the cream, heat up and season.

· Heat up a frying pan, add a little olive oil, season the scallops on both sides, put into the hot pan, making sure a nice even colour all around, then take out


· Place the creamed leeks onto the plate, then the scallops on top.

· Sprinkle the bacon crumb on top of the scallop

· Then put under the grill to crisp the crumb

· And serve.