It’s All About the Connection – Interview with Nicola Allen

Hello Soupa peeps! 

At the last Soup night at St. Luke’s, I got chatting with Nicola who’s one of our soup regulars. I discovered that she’s now a public face of Action of Elder Abuse, having a photo of herself as part of Rejuvenation, a photography exhibition at Brighton Station. I went to find out more.

Tell me a bit about yourself. I can hear the accent.  

I live in Kemptown now but I’m actually from Manchester. I left there when I was 16, then I went travel and work around the world before settling down in Brighton. I’ve done all kinds of works. I’ve even been on the stage at the Theatre Royal! 

That must have been quite an amazing experience! How did you come across BrightonSoup?

A couple years ago, I’ve seen an advert in the newsagent’s window. It said “Do you like soup? Do you like people? Well, come to Brighton Soup!” And I like trying lots of different things. I thought I would just come see what it’s about. I’ve been to at least 6 BrightonSoups since. Each time I’ve brought loads of people with me. It’s cheap. it’s a great night out.

And The raffle prizes are worth going for alone! 

Didn’t your friend win a raffle prize from one of our regular chefs – a private dining experience?

Yes she did! The chef was Sam Redfern, who turned up and served 5 of us three courses dinner. We explained to him that we only had a tiny kitchen. So he said he would cook it at home and bring it to the house. He brought it all in tupperware,. Then he came to collect it after we finished. It was such a fantastic prize!

 What prompted you to get involved with the Elder Abuse Recovery Service (EARS)?

I went to BrightonSoup one night and this lady was doing a wonderful pitch. It was for a charity that was developing and piloting in Brighton. I wanted to find a charity that I could, hopefully make a difference and help it grow. Also I was drawn to a charity that helps the older generation. I think the elderly are amazing, but they’re brushed aside. 

What’s your role there and how has the experience has been for you?

I’m a Befriender. I take someone who has been financially abused out. And I integrate them back into the society. I give up my time to reach out to people who live quite far out like Eastbourne. It isn’t one-sided. When I started, I didn’t realise how much I’d get out of it. It’s making me view things completely different.  I have gained so much by sourcing out places to take people to. Salvation Army has brilliant activities, even provides a pick-up service. It  has given me a font of a knowledge. And I has met some truly amazing people – there was an old lady who was blind. She was 80 and a rug maker!

You’re also involved with the Rejuvenation community project, how did that happen?

It is part of an Older People’s Festival. The poster at the station is about people who are over 50 and their volunteer work. I wanted to raise the publicity for EARS and their works. We desperately need more volunteers. 

Before I let you go, can you describe BrightonSoup in 3 words?

Souptastic. Community. Inspire.

Well described, Nicola!

Well big thank you to Nicola for taking the time to speak to us, and I have to say I’m completely in awe of how passionate and dedicated she is in her volunteering role.

If you want to find out more about the groups she’s involved with check out Action of Elder Abuse, their Elder Abuse Recovery Service (EARS). Or contact Gail Shanahan directly on 07508 823 975 or Gail is their Volunteer Co-ordinator and the lady doing the wonderful pitch that inspired Nicola to get involved.

As an aside, if you check our event post A Festive BrightonSoup @ Community Base from last December you’ll see Nicola and friends all dressed up for Christmas!

You can also see more about the Rejuvenation photography exhibition at Brighton Station.

That’s all for now. I hope you to see you at our next soup @ Community Base on Dec 8th. Hope you can make it.

(Tom Khai Kai)

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