How to throw the ultimate street party
It was a great success that we hope to repeat tomorrow, helped this time by the street’s WhatsApp group, now used weekly as a general resource for borrowing hedge trimmers, babysitters, cake tins and regular cries for eggs or sugar. It has also become an event to welcome new neighbours into the street, and get past the polite hello to something more meaningful.
While we’re relative newbies, Paul Selby is a street-party organiser pro. He sees the real social value of these events, and has won a “Neighbour of the Year” award in Manchester, where he arranged seven gatherings. “We are getting people to do what they seem to have forgotten, such as a smile and a hello. The result of meeting someone over a beer and hot dog might just reset things if someone is having a bad day,” he says. “It’s great to get to know who lives around you, who you can call on for help, and to look after each others’ houses when you’re away.”
Selby, 41, was very sad to leave his development in Brooklands, Manchester, to move with his family to Southampton. But he has now started up street parties there, and is pleasantly surprised that southerners have proved to be just as sociable.
In fact, according to the Big Lunch, the most sociable area of the UK is Northern Ireland (according to the number of street parties there), followed by Liverpool, Plymouth, Warrington and Manchester. Sarah Williamson from east Belfast agrees, after organising her first street party when she moved into the area last year.
The street of red-brick semis, which is a mix of families, retirees and single people, has started to become a real community since then, she suggests. A quiz and a tug of war at the tennis club on the street helped break down some barriers. “You need to build your neighbourhood, and in modern life it’s very easy not to connect with people properly,” says the NHS manager. “I think getting together in this way deepens your sense of home, making it
Throw your own Big Lunch, like this one in north London, main