Well no more reminders about getting a ticket, our first ever BrightonSoup event is over. It was held at the South Portslade Community Centre in Church Road, Portslade and shame if you missed it, because it was a great night.
It’s a brave thing to stand up and ask a room full of strangers for help, but the passion for their projects was evident. Paula and Mimi want to create “Knowledge” boxes to help families with newly diagnosed autistic children. Shalina needs visual aids for her talks to kids about the importance of food nutrition and how it affects mental health. Lizzie spoke for an art group for disabled children who need a projector and art supplies. And Ann wants to create a “secret garden” to engage the families of those using the Friday Food bank. 4 great projects and choosing wasn’t going to be easy. They had 5 minutes each to pitch with a few follow up questions before the focus switched from the stage to the room.
The voting was now open and food was being served. And delicious it was too, we were spoilt by our chef donations with 4 soups (3 vegan and all gluten free). In addition many guests brought food and drinks to share with Cous Cous, Focaccia, Cheese Scones, Cakes and more.
We had concerns that people would stay in groups and not mingle, but we shouldn’t have worried. Everybody mixed: whilst getting food and drinks, when voting, or when looking at the project and sponsor displays, everybody was actively discussing the projects and their merits. There was a great community vibe in the room with new connections being made.
At 8:30 we closed the vote and did our raffle. This was important to us as all the door money went to the projects, we had to cover our other costs. So all donations and raffle income was split 50/50 with the projects. The prizes were donated by the wonderful local retailers on Boundary Road and we made enough to boost the project pot and cover all of our costs. They also provided donations, discounts and decorations so the room could look lovely.
Whilst the votes were counted we were treated to the musical talents of Georgia Lewis, a young local folk singer and avid accordionist. She was captivating from the moment she started singing, holding everyone’s attention until the well deserved applause. She sang and played accordion, guitar and recorder. Georgia is normally accompanied by a guitarist and fiddle, but offered to play solo when they others couldn’t make it. And we’re so glad she did – it was one of the many highlights of the evening.
Finally, it was time for the results and Nikki had the pleasure of presenting Ann from the Purple People Plot with a cheque for £304.50. North Portslade’s very own Councillor Penny Gilbey was kind enough to join us for the evening, which was fitting as she is a big supporter of community projects.
It was great to see a project getting the pot, but BrightonSoup isn’t just about one project winning money. There were 4 great projects and they’re all deserving of help, financial or otherwise. So whilst what happened on the stage was great, it’s what was happening around the room that matters. The project you voted for may not have won, but that doesn’t stop you walking over to them and offering whatever help you can. It might be money, or a skill to pledge. This happened on the night.
Barry Hutton, the Head of Studies for Construction at Central Sussex College (Crawley) was in the audience as he lives locally. He was able to offer his students to the Purple People Plot to help build the garden walls they need. And this happened before the winner had even been announced. How great is that? And how fantastic would it be if all the projects left with a little bit more help.
So if you would like to get involved with any of these projects, you want to help out or have some skill to share, then please get in touch with them. Even if you didn’t attend (and shame on you if you didn’t), you can find out all the details on the projects and everyone that helped here.
So a perfect night? No. Things went wrong. We had a very loud and stompy dance class above us and our pa system wasn’t good enough. But we knew things would go wrong, and in the end we don’t think they got in the way of everyone having a great time.
We wanted to see how our first soup went before we committed to another one. I don’t think there is a reason to doubt now. There will be a next one, we just have to decide where and then – and we’ll tell you when we know. But in the meantime, a huge thank you to everyone that helped to make this one a success.