A Recipe for Soup
Have you ever heard of The Creative Communities Group? It is an international organisation consisting of an independent, autonomous network of local branches – one of which is very much active here in Preston. The co-founder of the Preston group is UCLan Honorary Fellow and Community Ambassador Russell Hogarth and it is managed by Nigel Farnworth – they are both based at UCLan.
Nigel spoke to me recently to explain how the CCG works and how it benefits local community initiatives, “The fact that we are based in the university means we can act as a catalyst for UCLan & the community to interact & co-operate in raising awareness, campaigning, fundraising etc”.
Some of the projects they are currently supporting in Preston include:
- Creativity Works Preston: a programme to support young people aged 14 – 19 who have been excluded from school;
- The Jinack project: supporting an island community in The Gambia;
- Recycling Lives: an award-winning charity which helps reduce landfill,
and Preston Soup.
“Preston Soup”, he explains, “is based on the Detroit Soup model and is a microcosmic example of what the CCG aims to do”. The events themselves are facilitated by local organisations donating their resources; for instance Dice and Donuts, a community funded café, provides the location and salad for free; Recycling Lives donates the veg for the soup; Morrisons donated bread rolls which they baked specially; and UCLan turned the veg into soup and facilitated the logistics of delivering the soup, keeping it hot and also provided the bowls, etc. This interaction of local organisations mirrors the way the group works nationally and internationally by linking charities into a widespread networking community. Other parts of UCLan and local groups also helped this happen such as The Creative Network and The Larder.
The first such event in Preston was held on 24th Feb 2016 and was attended by approximately 50 people paying £3.50 each. For this they had chance to network and tell the rest of the guests about their own cause or charity; enjoy soup, salad and bread rolls; listen to 4 local individuals or groups pitching their pleas for funds and then, most importantly, vote for the winner, who receives all the evening’s proceeds.
Projects bidding included a ‘Man-Cave’ scheme which aimed to provide strong male role-models for young men who had not had this during their early years. Another group were trained ‘Food Champions’, advising people how to eat healthily whilst also cutting costs by teaching them to cook and understand nutrition.
The winning bid was from an organisation called Progress Housing which offers temporary accommodation to individuals with long term mental health problems. The money they won was to be used to help develop their garden area which is both a therapeutic aid to the residents and also gives them a source of fresh produce. They planned to buy tools and seeds, and also thrown an open day even for the local community to visit the scheme and see the project.
Unlike on Dragons’ Den, however, not only the winning pitch benefits. The others were given spontaneous donations of cash or goods by other attendees, even the homeless on Fishergate were invited to enjoy the spread.
A little soup, it seems, can go a long way. If you would like to come to the next meeting, it is planned for October 26th at Dice and Donuts café near Preston train station