Scots to journey across the nation spreading community spirit

Zakia and derek

Two community minded Scots are getting their walking boots on as they aim to spread The Big Lunch message

7th May 2019 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

A pair of intrepid Scots are set to embark on a momentous journey as part of a campaign to bring communities together.

The Big Lunch has released the names of the 2019 Scotland team who will lead a two-week community walk taking place across the nation in the final two weeks of May.  

Zakia Moulaoui from Edinburgh joins Derek Harper from Brechin to form Team Scotland; two of the eight walkers that make up the four teams stepping out across the UK aiming to shine a light on people who bring their community closer together.

Their 17 day journey will begin in Zakia’s hometown of Edinburgh on 17 May and end in Derek's hometown of Brechin on the 1 June taking in Orkney, Inverness, Aberdeen and Dundee (among many other places).

The walkers will visit communities, meeting and chatting with people to celebrate the positive impact of collaborative projects and neighbourhood activities, and inviting everyone to share food, make friends and have fun together through The Big Lunch on 1 and 2 June. 

With a background working with charities that support homeless people, Zakia founded Invisible Cities - a Scottish social enterprise that trains local people who have experienced homelessness to become walking tour guides of their own cities.

She said: “A sense of community is probably one of the most important things we can ever have. In a world where everybody is supposedly connected, I think we are maybe a bit less connected in a personal more meaningful way and not heard, so I think empowering communities is the best thing we can do.”

Derek Harper, has worked as a greenkeeper, an architectural technician, and has even run a pub, but says that volunteering and becoming part of a community has transformed his life.

On being selected for this challenge, he said: “I’ve not represented Scotland at anything, to do so now and for communities across the country at a time of a crisis of disconnection, to be part of The Big Lunch Community Walk, to play my part in reconnecting people with each other, their place and to nature would be an absolute honour.”

Earlier this year The Big Lunch released a report - Closing the Distance - that revealed disconnection in communities is accelerating, compounded by a 4,000 strong Onepoll survey that showed three quarters (72%) of the UK population don’t feel they know their neighbours well, compared with (76%) of the population who felt it would be better for communities if we did.

Signalling a step change in efforts to increase community connection, Peter Stewart, executive director, Eden Project said: “Our amazing walkers are heading out to connect with people at the heart of the UK’s communities and inviting everyone to take a simple step to come together for a Big Lunch. We know there is appetite to close the distance and get to know each other better, so why wait? Join the fun with The Big Lunch on 1 and 2 June.”

An idea from the Eden Project, made possible by the National Lottery, The Big Lunch is about millions of people getting together to share food and get to know each other better.  Every year, over six million people take to their streets, gardens and neighbourhoods to join in for a few hours of community, friendship and fun on 1 and 2 June.

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