A PROJECT to combat social isolation in Alloa will be rolled out at the beginning of next month.

Bringing the community closer together will be a key tenet of the Big Lunch initiative, pioneered by the Eden Project.

This simply idea, which takes place on June 1-2, encourage neighbours to meet, greet, share ideas and have fun.

As a result, it is hoped that connections will be made, meaning fewer people will suffer from loneliness and isolation.

The idea, which will be rolled out to Alloa with free packs on offer to support the organisation of events, received the backing of Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Alexander Stewart.

The Conservative representative agreed to sign a pledge in the Scottish Parliament to help connect local communities.

He said: "When people get together great things can happen and communities are able to thrive.

"The Big Lunch is about fun, food and friendship, but what we know is that the connections made are the building blocks for friendlier, safer and stronger communities.

"This is why the Eden Project is using National Lottery funding to support this initiative and we hope that more people than ever will be involved in a Big Lunch this year."

Mr Stewart added: "The Big Lunch has commissioned a major new research report, which has identified a widening gap in the relationship between people and their neighbours that is damaging our mental and physical health and reducing the ability of communities to cope when crisis hits.

"The report revealed that we are living in times when over half the people in Scotland don't regularly talk to or spend time with their neighbours, and one in five of us have never even said hello to the people living around us.

"More positively, however, the survey also revealed that there is a desire for change with three quarters believing it would be better for our communities if we were closer to our neighbours."

The report commissioned by the Eden Project highlighted that empowered, inclusive and supportive communities are" more resilient to external shocks" such as economic crises and environmental disasters.

It added: "Stronger, happier and healthier individuals are more productive and creative, and better at problem solving and teamwork.

"They are, in essence, better workers. Equally, happier communities support family welfare, reduce crime and create savings in health and welfare expenditure."

Visit thebiglunch.com or call 0845 850 8181 to speak to the team about free starter packs, tips and ideas.