Boris Johnson’s drive to create a more neighbourly society in London has received a major boost with the appointment of Barbara Windsor as the Mayor’s Street Party Ambassador. The Mayor wants to encourage more people to get involved with their local communities and help support isolated neighbours. He has written to Borough Leaders across the capital, urging them to help eradicate unnecessary bureaucracy and costs, so that communities can feel more confident in hosting street parties and fetes.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 

‘The spectacle and excitement of the Royal Wedding is the perfect catalyst for street parties and I hope that it will spark a growing movement of communal activity. London is a truly fantastic city, but we all have such busy lives and many of us don’t know or trust our neighbours. Bringing local people together, is not just a question of intangible morale boosting, but by knowing your neighbours by their first name can help make the capital a safer place.

‘I am delighted that Barbara will be joining me on this journey, she is a natural champion to bring the city together. As a born and bred Londoner, she understands the importance of community and has the charm and wit to galvanise an army of community spirited citizens.’

The number of people living alone in London has doubled since the 1970s and is expected to triple by 2020.  The London Survey has found that 60 per cent of Londoners do not feel a sense of community in their local area. The Mayor would like to harness the excitement around the Royal Wedding, the 2012 Games, the Diamond Jubilee and use events like the Big Lunch to unlock and promote community spirit.

Already by creating better public spaces and improving the look and feel of London by redesigning and reclaiming streets, squares, green and open spaces and with the introduction of the Barclay’s Cycle Hire Scheme, the city is easier for Londoners to use and enjoy together.

Working with street party initiative the Big Lunch, the Mayor wants London to become the street party capital of the world and is looking to recruit high profile local champions in every borough to help former East Enders star Barbara Windsor make this idea a reality.

The Mayor and Miss Windsor visited the Rocky Park Urban Growers, part of the Capital Growth scheme, in Tower Hamlets who are growing food for their Big Lunch.

In her role as Street Party Ambassador, Barbara Windsor MBE will visit and promote the work of a number of community projects in 2011 in across London.  She said:

’I have some really fond memories of growing up in London’s East End and the street parties we all got involved in. They provided the perfect atmosphere for local communities to come together and for neighbours to get to know one another.

‘I am delighted to be working alongside the Mayor as his Street Party Ambassador and will enjoy getting out across London to encourage people to get involved and bring about some of the community spirit of yesteryear onto the capital’s streets today.’

Tim Smit, Chief Executive of The Eden Project and The Big Lunch founder said:

’The Eden Project was hugely delighted to launch The Big Lunch two years ago to provide the perfect excuse for people in streets all across our wonderful Country to create a moment to share with neighbours and to remind themselves that we are not alone and that together we can do great things, big and small.  In short, it is the simplest of all calls to arms to share in eating together, laughing together and having many reasons to be hopeful.’

The Big Lunch is an annual one-day get together where neighbours and local communities share lunch and enjoy a street party. 800,000 people took part in 2010 across UK and 20 per cent of lunches were in London. This year it will be held on the 5th June in hundreds of locations across the city and will be a warm up for celebrations in 2012.