AS The Big Lunch approaches for yet another year, dedicated Limavady man, Rory Mullan, is set to take part for the first time.
Rory, who works as a support worker for the Western Trust, will join eight ordinary members of the public who will hit roads across the UK this week on a 17-day mission.
The aim is to invite as many people as possible to join The Big Lunch, taking place across the nation between 17 May and 2 June.
Limavady man Rory and Belfast woman, Patricia Fleming are the Northern Ireland team; two of the eight walkers that make up the four teams stepping out across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland aiming to shine a light on people who bring their community closer together.
Keen mountaineer Rory, who is part of Magee Hill Walking Club has worked in the voluntary sector for the last 9 years in Derry city and is keen to embark on the upcmoming challenge.
Rory told the Northern Constitution: “When I heard about this project I thought it was right up my street as it shines a light on the fantastic work that goes on in both the community and the voluntary sector.
“I have also completed Walk the Camino in Spain so the endurance part of the walk also appealed to me.”
Rory went on to say: “I work with children who have learning disabilities and I can see there is a need out there.
“There are people who go out everyday and dont get paid for the work they do and their help is considered a lifeline for many people.”
Throughout their 17 day journey, the walkers will visit communities meeting people to celebrate the positive impact of collaborative projects and neighbourhood activities, and inviting everyone to share food, make friends and have fun together.
According to Limavady man Rory, he is looking forward to the reowned walk which is due to begin this week.
Rory said: “Northern Ireland has come a long way in the last twenty years.
“I’m proud to be a part of initiatives which develop the community, while contributing to the wider aspiration of a truly shared Northern Ireland.
“I’m relishing the opportunity to meet ordinary people doing extraordinary things every day.”
He continued: “I look forward to promoting the many benefits of volunteerism which will hopefully act as a catalyst for increasing community activism in the places I visit.”
Rory concluded: “As a walker, I hope to complete the journey across our beautiful countryside and along the way encourage people to embrace the many benefits of exploring the outdoors in their local area.”
Earlier this year The Big Lunch released a new 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!”
Rory is due to start his journey this Friday May 17 in Belfast.