Weapon of Choice awarded £375 by London SOUP!

10th April 2014

Inside Pan

London Soup 

Meet. Persuade. Discuss. Eat. Vote

On Sunday 23rd March, I took the tube to Highbury and Islington and wondered down Upper Street searching for the New Unity Unitarian Church, tasked with a (non-religious) mission. New Unity Unitarian Church is an atheist church and the venue for London SOUP events.

I was nervous. I had precisely 10 minutes to locate the venue and rehearse my pitch for the last time, before standing in front of a room of people to explain Weapon of Choice’s schools project. I was trying to rehearse the pitch quietly enough to avoid strange stares in the street, yet loudly enough to be certain I was actually saying the words and not just humming.

London SOUP is a micro-granting programme I happened upon whilst poring over Twitter one Monday morning. And I’m glad I did.

The idea behind SOUP is to bring fundraising back to the community, making it a collaborative process. SOUP raises money through door proceeds, £10 for a delicious lunch and a vote, and awards one of four projects the money raised. Anyone can pitch. You just need to be passionate about an idea or project that will benefit the London community.

It’s a thoughtful event where everyone actively contributes thoughts, ideas, discussion and questions. 

And that is how I found myself outside the New Unity Unitarian Church half talking, half humming: still nervous. I was pitching for our Weapon of Choice schools project. What if my mind went totally blank…? Would I forget why I was there and start singing? What if everyone booed? (*note: everyone at London SOUP is SOUP'er friendly, no one is ever booed). Would I be pitching before or after the soup? I can’t eat if I’m nervous(thankfully: you ‘soup’ after you pitch). My mind was swimming however, once I walked through the door, it was clear this was going to be a really lovely afternoon.

The pitch isn’t as scary as it might sound. I’m pleased to tell you that I didn’t start singing (*note: no one would mind if you did). No one booed. I did forget most of what I planned to say; thankfully the smiling faces in the audience make explaining your project easy. 

Votes are casted and counted during lunch.

Feeling pleased I’d managed to pitch and glad that now I could talk to everyone on the table (and eat!) I almost forgot about the finale. As everyone was finishing off lunch and left over bread was being passed around, Deborah was ready to announce the winner. … I couldn’t believe it…  our project was announced… it took me a moment to digest the information. I found myself on stage, fairly close to tears, and gesticulating wildly… (which was slightly embarrassing to watch back with the Pan team on Monday morning!)

It had been a wonderful afternoon. Not just because we’d won. The atmosphere and people and the concept behind SOUP is inspiring.

[I live & love with my wholeheart, Brene Brown]

It felt like wholehearted fundraising. 

Thank you London SOUP community. We are grateful. The £375 we were awarded will go directly to 3 schools workshops.  What makes London SOUP particularly special is that it’s not solely about the grant.

Deborah pointed out: there’s only one cash prize, therefore it’s up to the SOUP community to ensure it’s worthwhile for the other 3 projects too. There are so many ways in which you can make it worthwhile.

Volunteer your time or expertise,
Feedback about the pitch or project,
Suggest another grant programme or fundraising initiative.

Here’s our contribution: a shout-out to the inspiring projects we had the privilege to pitch alongside that Sunday afternoon.

Calthorpe Project needs more raised beds, seeds and equipment for their community garden. This garden supports people from the area and is a vital, local resource. info@calthorpeproject.org.uk

The Possibility Project will support transgender young people by offering a creative space for them to explore hopes, dreams and aspirations. octavianstarr@gmail.com

Huladooledoo is a hula hooping class for residents of the Robin Hood estate, in Tower Hamlets, offering a wonderful way to keep-fit as a community, an intergenerational and fun activity for local people; they need more hoops! Alexandra.effe@gmx.de

(There are SOUPs in other parts of the world- take a look at Detroit SOUP)

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