Norwich’s Big Lunch has international flavour

A city street had a truly international flavour yesterday as people from across the world gathered for a special lunchtime get together.

Residents and people in Muspole Street held a street party as part of the Big Lunch event which is aimed at encouraging neighbours to get together.

A diverse mix of people living in Norwich some from Ghambia, Iran, Bulgaria, Iraq, and Zimbabwe enjoyed the event where people enjoyed BBQ food as well as cakes and dishes from across the world.

As well as bringing their own food, everyone taking part was also encouraged to introduce themselves to somebody they had never met before.

Organiser Pa Musa Jobarteh, from Menter (East of England Black and Minority Ethnic Network) said the aim was to bring the community together in the street and also highlight some of the events happening later this month as part of the separate Refuge Week in Norfolk and Norwich.

'There's a lot of different nationalities from Bulgaria to Iraq to Gambia,' he said. 'We are participating as part of the start of refugee week.

'It's an opportunity for people to get to know each other. We've had a really good time and we had more than 20 people helping volunteering to cook and mind the barbeque.

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'We have had neighbours contributing and at the end of the day, the whole idea is to come out and raise awareness.'

Abraham Eshetu, diversity manager at Norfolk Constabulary, who was also taking part in the event, said: 'What we are trying to do is really encourage people from different backgrounds to get on with each other, and things like this are really good for community cohesion.'

The Big Lunch is a national event started by the Eden Project, which aims to get as many people as possible across the whole of the UK to have lunch with their neighbours in a simple act of community, friendship and fun.

Since starting in 2009, thousands of Big Lunches have taken place in all kinds of communities across the UK and the best part of a million people get involved each year. A Big Lunch can be anything from a few neighbours getting together in the garden or on the street, to a full street party.

In King's Street there was also plenty going on as several organisations in the street from the Dragon Hall to the Waterfront opened their doors for their own Big Lunch events.

At the Dragon Hall there was a chance to wonder around the gardens and enjoy something to eat.

Natasha Harlow, project manager of King Street Community Voices, said: 'Some people have brought their own picnics and people have been putting things on the lunch tables to share.

'We are so lucky in King Street,' she added. ' It's so creative and there's so much going on, and it's nice to see people meeting up. We thought it would be great to meet some of our resident neighbours and give them the chance to see the different things that are going on.'

At St Ethelreda Artists Studio there was a chance to meet some of the local artists and have a look around the gallery space, as well as enjoying something nice to eat and drink.

Cora Shearing, artist and treasurer of St Ethelreda Artists Studios, King Street, said: 'It's been great. It's a really nice way to raise community spirit.'

Are you planning a community event? Contact reporter Shaun Lowthorpe on 01603 772471 or email shaun.lowthorpe@archant.co.uk

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