A year ago last Sunday – June 19th – we held our very first soup. Driven by a desire to do something to break the doom and gloom of the recovery. Do something that wasn’t about work, especially as I have to spend time working way from Brighton. Then I read the bit the BBC did on Detroit Soup that seems to have been the catalyst for soups all around the country.
My wife said go for it, my daughter said she do it with me. So we went for it, roping in family, friends and ultimately complete strangers. We weren’t sure how we were going to cover our costs until people started donating stuff for a raffle. Well we better have a raffle then…
Local businesses chipped in, not just for a raffle, but flowers, balloons, decorations and sweets. They made us big pots of soup. A lovely lady came to play and sing. Four very brave people made posters, brought leaflets and then stood and pitched to a roomful of strangers about their project and what they needed money for, then mingled with the guests answering questions.
Luckily people had come to see what it was all about: young, old, on their own, with friends, couples. Some brought food they cooked at home or stopped at a shop on the way: lasagne, rice, bread, cakes, wine – so many things to share and eat.
At one point I just stood watching the room. For the first time that day I stopped moving and just enjoyed being. A room full of people eating, talking animatedly, laughing, voting, looking at displays, swapping details, passing out food, clearing plates, etc. After weeks of nerves and wondering will anyone come, will they enjoy it, will it be a disaster? The answers were clear: yes, yeah, and no it wasn’t.
It’s easy to think of this as a proud “look what we did” moment, and I won’t deny I felt that when I saw family and friends in the midst of it all helping people. What really struck me though was the incredibly positive feeling that ran through the room. This was a room full of really nice people that wanted to get involved in something. Some were already actively engaged in their communities, but for others it was the first time – and it gave them the opportunity to be part of something. As it did me.
Donating money, volunteering, offering goods, space, expertise or just help spreading the word of what they do. And not just to the vote winner, but to all of the projects. It was genuinely humbling to see what people were willing to do, but more so, to realise what so many people were already quietly doing week after week. Helping to make their community better, safer, more beautiful, helping friends, neighbours and complete strangers. Those are the people that filled the room that night – and we were all part of it. We just created the space for it to happen.
It’s tempting to give you stats of the events we’ve held this last year, the amounts we’ve encouraged you to donate and the projects that received your help. But what stays with me about this year is all the people I’ve met. Strangers that approached me to offer donations, funding advice, practical support, help or just a chat about how much they were enjoying the evening. So many wonderful people and some really fun conversations. Some of those strangers are now part of our soup community, helping select projects, cooking soups – some are now on board as part of Team Soup. Some are now friends.
So a lovely lady in Detroit starts something that gets reported over here – and it inspires people all around the country to do the same. If you haven’t yet been to a Soup event, then you really should try one, it really is a great way to spend an evening. Wherever you are, there’s bound to be one happening nearby. We may have different flavours, but at heart we’re the same. And if there isn’t one nearby, well then start one 🙂 . You won’t regret it.
And you can always get in touch if you want some help. From us at BrightonSoup or any other soup around the country. I may not know them, but I can assure they will be glad to help. After all, that’s what soups are about.
Soup changes so many lives and it has certainly changed mine.
I like that.
Next Soup: Friday 1st July @ Emmaus
Worcester Soup have a great list of all the soups that exist around the UK: https://worcestersoup.co.uk/uk-soups/