We love Soup- Newcastle Soup, to be exact!

Last night we joined a packed- room full of (mostly) strangers at Ouseburn’s chilled and quirky restaurant-bar Ernest. We popped £4 each into a pot and settled in to listen to 4 local community groups speak enthusiastically and passionately about their project for 4 minutes each. They also had the opportunity to answer 4 questions each from the audience. When they’d finished, we enjoyed a bowl of soup and bread (very kindly donated by Ernest), gathered round the long tables. Each person then voted for their favourite cause, the ballot was counted, and the winning group was awarded the pot of takings.

Last night we heard from Team Kenya, a UK charity which educates girls, empowers women and transforms communities. They were followed by a representative from Star and Shadow Cinema, a volunteer-run community hub who are currently running a crowd funder campaign to raise money for their new building. Our friend Helen Bramhall from Crafty Angels was there too, showcasing her upcycling gift kits and explaining the rationale behind her No Plastic Toys play sessions. The winner of the £200 pot, however, was Susan from Skills for People. She talked with passion and enthusiasm about the value of the pottery classes she had introduced, that allow her class of students with a variety of learning disabilities to make beautiful pottery creations, building self-esteem, relationships, self-confidence and self-esteem. The money she won last night will keep the group going until the end of February- and invaluable support to her community of learners.

But, she wasn’t the only winner. The great value of Soup isn’t in the pot of cash. It is in raising awareness, starting conversations, making connections, recruiting volunteers and finding support and encouragement.

Earlier this week, a good friend was sharing her anxieties and concerns about the recent horrors in the news. “Aren’t you terrified about the world we’re living in?”, she asked me. On reflection, I honestly could say, no,  I’m not! Richard and I are very blessed to spend each working day meeting with people like the amazing Soup pitchers- people who work in charities and small businesses, who have identified a problem or a need, and who have decided to set to the task of finding a solution. Our local are is absolutely brimming with passionate and caring people who are keen to make our communities better, happier and healthier. Coming along to Soup is such a great antidote to despair and gives so much hope. What a great way to spend an evening?!

We had such a wonderful night. Reserves were dropped as conversations started and flowed. Looking around the packed room, buzzing with laughter and chat and hope and solidarity, was very precious. We can’t wait for the next Soup get together in November.

Are you involved in or do you know of a great community project that could do with some micro-funding or awareness? It might be a charity or not for profit organisation, but it might equally be just one person who maybe has a plan to tidy up a bit of wasteland, or a large company that has a community-based project plan. Email [email protected] with your idea or question.

Sign up to the Newcastle Soup Facebook page now so you can be among the first to find out the date of the next meeting, or drop an email to [email protected] to sign up to the mailing list. Who can you invite for a really fun night meeting some truly lovely people, hearing about amazing things and supporting fantastic ideas?

See you in November!

 

If you’re interested in finding out more about other exciting local initiatives, check out our blog archives, including previous Soup-winners Slow Shopping,

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