Jo Brand: Get ‘socially fit’ after lockdown by chatting with neighbours

Big Lunch ambassador Jo Brand (The Big Lunch/PA)
Big Lunch ambassador Jo Brand (The Big Lunch/PA)

Comedian Jo Brand has called on the nation to get “socially fit” again after months of lockdowns by making time to chat with neighbours.

Brand, 63, said she can relate to the concept of ‘re-entry anxiety’ – people worried about socialising as restrictions ease as part of the Government’s road map.

She is an ambassador for the Big Lunch, a National Lottery-supported initiative from the Eden project that this year will take place over a month.

Referencing the popular NHS Couch to 5K running programme, she said: “It’s time to get ourselves socially fit again.

“Forget training for a Couch to 5k, it’s all about getting from Couch to 5 conversations now… and what better place to start than on your doorstep?”

She added that if anyone is feeling anxious “about diving back into the socialising pool”, then the Big Lunch is the “perfect way to dip a toe back in the metaphorical shallow end”.

More than four million people took part in the Big ‘Virtual’ Lunch 2020, as the event moved online for the first time in its 12-year history.

This year people are being encouraged to take part in the Big Lunch over one month in any way they feel comfortable – outdoors, online, over the fence or on the doorstep.

Brand, a Big Lunch ambassador for five years, said: “Whilst I’m chomping at the bit to see family and friends again; I certainly won’t be front of the queue dishing out hugs when my local rave club reopens.

“Everyone has their own social roadmap to what they will feel comfortable doing. We all need to go at our own pace and that’s just fine.”

Peter Stewart executive director of the Eden Project said: “The idea of things opening up again and us being able to get together, chat and even hug brings with it natural anxieties as well as anticipation and excitement.

This year we want to support people and communities as we emerge from the toughest of times and start to reconnect with the world around us.

“That is why this year the Big Lunch is spreading out across a whole month of community, giving people the chance to ease themselves back into socialising with a focus on neighbours and community.”

The Big Lunch will take place from June 5.

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