Making London better with SOUP.
London is in the top ten of the world’s richest cities, and yet it has higher rates of poverty than anywhere else in England. At a time when the voluntary and community sector are facing cuts to their funding, how can we address growing inequalities in our city?
For the past few months, I’ve been involved with a number of other volunteers in an exciting new project, London SOUP, which aims to bring Londoners together in support of small, community-led projects in and for the city. The ultimate goal: to make London better through community action and interaction.
The idea to set up London Soup was inspired by the incredibly successful DetroitSOUP project, which last year raised raised over $12,000 for small businesses, nonprofits and individuals with ideas to help make the city better, whether it be through the arts, education, collaboration, social entrepreneurship, justice, or urban agriculture.
The idea of a SOUP is that it is a community dinner and micro-funding project, bringing local people together to share a meal and raise funds for small, community-led projects with a creative, environmental or social aim.
At a SOUP event we come together to eat as a community, and to hear from four different projects seeking to create social good. We eat delicious, home-made soup, salad and bread. We talk about the projects, our values, and what’s important to us. Importantly, in such a big and sometimes isolating city, we make new connections and new friends. We vote for the project that we like the best and, at the end of the night, we donate our door takings (£10 donation per person) to that project to help make it happen.
Even at this very early stage, we have been so overwhelmed by enthusiasm and support for the initiative. Ahead of our first SOUP event on 8th December we have bread donated by the Brick House Bakery in Peckham, and utensils and napkins donated by Nincomsoup on Old Street Roundabout.
One of the crucial things we need is people to pitch their great ideas for London. At London SOUP we are pretty open about what the project might be, as long as it has social value, and is public access – and benefits London in some way. Pitches could be from individuals, artists, activists or constituted projects involved in social justice, environmental work, community building, art, education, protest, urban agriculture – or any one of a hundred other ideas. If you have an idea, or know someone who has an idea that needs small-scale funding to get it off the ground, you can apply to pitch at a forthcoming London SOUP here.
We still don’t know how much money we’ll eventually raise but even a small grant of £50 – £100 can make a big difference to small, community-led projects. And then there’s the benefit that you can’t count: the value of bringing people together, connecting people, to share hope for the future of London and to make positive change happen in our neighbourhoods. For this, we don’t need money but people. We need you.
The very first London SOUP will be taking place on Sunday 8th December 2013, from 2pm – 5.00pm, at the Rotary Bar & Diner near Old Street and more information, including how to register can be found here.
If you’d like more information or want to know how you can get involved with London SOUP, please visit the website: http://londonsoup.org.uk or follow us on Twitter @SoupLondonUK. We’re still looking for an event sponsor and for soup ingredients, please do drop us a line on the I’d like to be involved page if you think you can help.