Sent to the Evening Echo today. Watch this space…

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Southend soup

Community micro-finance for good ideas

Neighbours helping neighbours – that’s the concept behind “Southend Soup”, a new scheme being trialled in Leigh-on-Sea at the end of September.

Sherry Fuller, a Westcliff resident who has set up the trial, was inspired by a programme on BBC Radio 4 about Detroit Soup. In Detroit – a city experiencing severe economic crisis – people come together in their hundreds to share soup and to help fund community initiatives.

The premise is simple; pay £3 for soup, a roll, a drink, and a vote. During the evening, a few people with “Good Ideas” talk about their projects. People then get to chat, and mull over the ideas, whilst they enjoy food together. Everyone votes for their favourite idea, and that idea wins the money in the pot.

Ideas are submitted in advance of the evening, and should be well thought out. Sherry explains; “People – of any age, including children – can come up with any idea they wish. It could be an artistic venture, a business idea or anything that helps the community. It can be of individual, group, or community benefit. The more structure you have to your idea, and the better your plan, the more likely it will be that people will vote for you – so be prepared!”

Projects that have been funded through the Detroit programme include teaching young people cookery skills, teaching crafts to vulnerable adults, graveyard gardening, and start-up business ideas – most of which are social enterprises. Sherry hopes people will be just as imaginative with the projects they propose for the Southend scheme. However, she points out that the scheme is in its infancy, so people shouldn’t expect large amounts of money; “it’s about micro-finance – a small amount of cash to help you to get started”.

This isn’t just about funding projects. It’s also about making connections; “I hope this will bring communities together – to meet one another, to make new friends, and to talk about the things that matter to them; the things they want to achieve. In the world we now live in, everyone could use a bit of help and more friends. I know I’m often cheered up just by having a conversation; I hope people will find these gatherings fun!”

The first meeting takes place at Wesley Methodist Church, Elm Road, Leigh-on-Sea on Saturday 28th September, from 6.30pm to 9.30pm. Presentations will take place from 7pm, with soup served afterwards. All are welcome, including families.

People with ideas that they would like to put forward on the night should fill in the on-line form at the Southend Soup blog. People can also email Sherry their ideas, or questions, at SherryFuller@Hotmail.co.uk. You should be happy to talk about your idea on the night for about 10 minutes. The deadline for ideas for the coming meeting is Friday 20 September.

Please also contact Sherry if you can offer a free or low-cost venue – anywhere in Southend – or if you would like to help with the event (for example providing soup ingredients or helping out on the night.)

ENDS

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Notes for journalists

Detroit Soup was established in 2010 and is an award winning community micro-funding scheme – using the principle of crowd-funding to support initiatives. It was primarily set up to support the arts.

Southend Soup was inspired by Detroit Soup, but is not affiliated with nor connected to the US scheme in any way.

Southend Soup is currently being trialled. A few meetings will be planned and then the success of the programme evaluated. If the scheme is successful, charitable status may be explored. Currently, as this is a very small scale trial, it is not appropriate to run it as a charitable concern. It is, however, entirely non-profit. All associated costs will be met by the organiser – Sherry Fuller. Money towards costs will only be taken out of Southend Soup takings if the event makes over £200.

Sherry Fuller (40) works part-time for Southend Borough Council in the Department for People. Her role is mostly about connecting with people about health and social care issues. She is actively involved with her community; for example volunteering as a Community First Responder and providing free training for communities in ways to motivate people to take action. She is currently studying for a BA in philosophy and runs Southend Philosophy Group: http://www.meetup.com/Southend-Philosophy-Group/. She also blogs – about the trials and tribulations of her life, and random things – at www.alotneverhappens.wordpress.com

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🙂

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