At the end of last year I had the pleasure of attending another Soup in the UK, this time it was in Malvern, Worcester. It was their 2nd event, held at Malvern Town Football Club, and with four fantastic projects pitching it was an inspiring evening with a really difficult choice to be made.
After being greeted on the door by some lovely volunteers with matching Malvern Soup tee’s (can’t deny being jealous of those!), I then met Chris the founder, and his wife. We chatted and swapped notes before getting settled in for an afternoon of Soup!
“It’s nice when new people get captured by the magic of soup!”
Chris was inspired to start up Malvern Soup when he went along to Worcester Soup. He loved hearing about the projects that were pitched, but also loved the feel of the event. It created a space where people who cared could come together to learn, discuss and generate new ideas. So, he reckoned there would be enough people in Malvern with a passion for community to make a MalvernSoup viable.
It took a few months to get the ball rolling however. He had an initial meeting where Bruce from Worcester Soup came to talk and offer advice. They’ve had good support from agencies – council, housing association, children’s centre, police – which has continued. What he didn’t have were other community volunteers to make it a reality. But after some chatting to people at a market and an overheard conversation, their small group came together.
It’s always really exciting going to another Soup. Seeing how another group have established themselves, organised their evening. Noticing all the little things that differ or that you do the same. I was in familiar surroundings although I’d never been there! I went to another Soup earlier in the year (Ely) and although each one seems to have the same format, the same intent, they all have their individuality.
One thing that came across is that they love to involve people of all ages and try to be very inclusive, they’ve been supported by the local sports provider and children’s centre who have brought kit along to keep the little ones entertained whilst the older lot network. Ensuring fun and benefit for everyone there.
It was a tough choice; a community garden, an association reaching out to isolated people, a timebank and a self-advocacy group for people with learning disabilities. Their pitches were engaging and emotive. There were duo’s, interviews, props used, and after each presentation I heard I wanted vote for them. Which obviously made it difficult when crunch time came along.
The winners Speak Easy N.O.W who support people with learning disabilities, took home an amazing £350, which was all of the door money and matched funding from Big Pickersleigh Project (for the 2nd time)!
“They’ve all enjoyed pitching and said they’ve gained from it, whether through making connections or building their confidence. And that’s what it’s all about.”
Everyone at Malvern Soup are pretty optimistic that they can go on to even bigger and better things, and I’m sure soon they’ll be offering advice and support to newer soups, just as they’ve received from Worcester and us!
If you’re going to another part of the country, keep on the look out for other Soup events going on, its always great to see what else is going on, and support it. Community isn’t just local.
It was a fab Soup Chris, thank you, keep it up!
Stephanie, Team Soup