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Weapon of Choice awarded £375 by London SOUP!

10 April 2014

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.

  • The Possibility Project will support transgender young people by offering a creative space for them to explore hopes, dreams and aspirations.
  • 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!

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

Spread the word.London SOUP is great.

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