Volunteer   Pitch

November 2016

A bit behind with the updates!
We’ve run around another 8 soups since the last update :)
November found us at Emmaus in Colchester – so pleased to be invited to join all of the community there.
Pitches were from:

Harry Potter Book Night – for an event at Firstsite in Colchester in February 2017
Secret Hamper– to add to their charity offerings of hampers to be donated each month
Alfie’s Adaptations – to help towards a wet room for a disabled child
65 people donated £350
Alfie’s adaptations won the pot.
Raffle money of £29 went to one winner who gave half to Harry Potter Book night
A donation of afternoon tea for two at Ickworth Hotel went to another winner
Secret Hamper then stepped in and donated a hamper – which went to another winner – who then gave it to Alfie’s Adaptations to raffle on another occasion and raise some more money.

In addition one audience member had made surprise xmas crackers, knitted xmas puddings and knitted poppies – with the £30 raised from sales going to Lupus UK

Perfect circle of community



Colchester Essex December 2015 Colchester Rugby Club

Brilliant! A second councillor in Colchester who decided that maybe his community grant allocation should be allocated around his ward by his constituents.

Step forward, Mr Ben Locker….

We have all the equipment etc to make it happen so we were more than happy to help out. As usual with a new soup area its a struggle to get people to pitch. So Ben spread the word liberally and ultimately 5 pitchers spoke on the night for their share of £2000 (plus door money)

First up, the Lorae Grade Project, an interesting new educational project heading Colchester’s way. Needed? musical instruments,wooden blocks and rent money. Aiming to utilise an area of a redundant school building.

Another on the billing was Bergholt Road community allotment. Aiming to be accessible to all this is a great example of ‘engagement’ :) (we love key words)

An emotional pitch for a foot brace from a mountaineer who had injured his foot badly enough to warrant amputation before finding out that equipment to give back a quality of life is available. But it’s on trial and therefore not on the NHS. He pledged to fundraise at least an equivalent amount to that which he has been donated. His charity of choice for this is St Helena Hospice.

A traffic calming scheme on a new estate where the road has yet to be adopted by Essex County Council. The idea was to make it very clear that there is a school entrance, making drivers more aware of the inherent dangers in the area.

And finally a lady who just wanted peopl to know about Myland Community Council and their efforts to retain ‘community’ in a rapidly expanding area.

Will Quince MP won the raffle but he had gone home so it got redrawn. Stephen Rowe took it home instead.

Ultimately another small event that carried out its purpose. It’s great that this is happening and awareness in community and for community is rising. We would extend a big thank you to the councillors who have taken up the idea and been progressive. We have 2 more councillors getting ready for their February 2016 event…who knows what the future will bring?

Colchester Essex November 2015 Samaritans Colchester

At last! We are keen on this group and venue and this had taken some time to organise. Every Samaritans branch has to fundraise locally so our bit of rent helped out….it also showed people exactly where the monthly, very good, book sale is held :)

A packed room of around 80 people meant that there was a decent amount of money to be had by the winner. Also there were a few people showing their skills, an author who had written about life as a submariner (some of his book sale money went to the 2 non winners), a craftswoman selling (50p) mini xmas puddings for the Lupus Charity, based down the road in Romford, and a lady looking for volunteers for autism friends.

First up was Dave Harris speaking for Monkwick Youth Club very eloquently. They needed rent money and new equipment but ultimately th decision on the spend would be the childrens.

Next up Dodgeball in Colchester from an Aberdonian. As you do. Team members and awareness was his aim rather than cash money winning.

And finally Signpost who do a great job helping people back into work and provided a very enlightening 5 minutes talk. Making the voting decision very hard.

Soup over and the winner is… the youth club. A worthy winner and a very shy Bex up on stage to collect the winnings (£315 ish)

Raffle winner handed their money to the two remaining pitchers so they went home with £14 each.

And then they got another £7 each from the book man.

And the Lupus charity got £20.

Samaritan got rent money.

Brilliant redistribution of capital by Colchester residents.


Colchester Essex October 2015 Colchester Fire Station

A deviation from our standard process saw us alongside HarwichSoup as part of the Art of the Possible Festival for Essex County Council. This was a week long series of events aimed at encouraging innovation and enthusiasm.

Ours was just one example of many that set out to show what could happen if communities were able to ‘just do’

A room of 50/50 ECC employees/public listened to the standard 3 pitches. This time it was Erin Summers Norman (who won) talking about her book, The Lemay Leveller, Jo talking about Castle Hedingham library and her wish to equip it with ipads etc for the silver generation and Belinda telling of the need for an organ to be retuned in time for Christmas carol services at St Leonards Church on the Hythe.

Erin won. She took home around £180. Her book is now published.

Jo attended the next soup and is now intending to set one up in Halstead. She also gained good knowledge from others in the room for her library idea.

Belinda was told of a source for grant money for the organ tuning.

Essex County Council saw (in a very small way) how soup ‘just does’



Colchester Essex September 2015 – Firstsite

A slight change from our previous venue. This one cost a fortune and is shiny gold. But, sticking to our core values, it is a community venue. And getting more so all the time.

We were allocated the foyer, right by sliding doors on the downside, but the upside, everyone who came into the venue got to see what soup was about.

The three presenters on the night were: – a local group trying to educate people on the choice of careers available – they needed a camera

Kidsbacks4thefuture – a local osteopath with grand ambitions – so far Lyndee has managed to get artwork on how to carer for your back into school diaries and she was pitching for money for posters to put in every primary school in Colchester – 63 of them

Caroline Rhys-Lewis – a local artist who has a potters wheel but needed some more clay to enable more people to have a go and maybe take the wheel out on the road. She brought along clay for everyone to have a go with during the evening.

Winners that night were a first – joint winners Caroline & Kidsbacks4thefuture took home £250 each after local councillor Darius Laws kindly topped up the winners pot.

Thank you Darius :)

Rowhedge Essex August 2015 – St Lawrence Church

In a break from the norm we opted to help out a local councillor – Mike Lilley.

Each Colchester Councillor was allocated £2000 to spend as they chose in the community they represent. Mike opted to let that same community decide where the money should go.

Instead of one winner the money was granted in accordance with percentage vote -eg 50% of vote = 50% of £2000 therefore £1000.

5 local groups pitched for 5 minutes to their neighbours and the end allocations went to

Rowhedge Rowing Association – extension of jetty

Grief Counselling – Rowhedge resident starting in business

Rowhedge under 5s – equipment

Rowhedge Yoga – PR for new buisiness

Arts La’Olam -to bring a kora music event to Colchester

In addition there was still a pot of money from donations at the door and this was split in a similar way.

Quote from Daisy Lees of Arts La’Olam “I buzzed all the way home, I couldnt believe anything could be so easy”


Colchester Essex July 2015 – Emmaus

At last! We’d made it to a warehouse!

The idea we shamelessly stole from Detroit back in January is usually hosted over there in a warehouse and so this was our dream destination. Having been given a choice of location by the fantastic charity Emmaus it was a wonderful way to start the evening.

The venue is stuffed chockablock with all manner of quirky things and it wasnt long before it started filling with people – about 80 of them :)

The word of colchestersoup seems to be spreading rapidly, thanks in no small part to this great article from the BBC’s Laurence Cawley.

Again 3 great presenters –

Autism Rolo -who having being diagnosed with autism at a late age decided to buy a van, fit it out, and travel spreding the word on the value of autistic employees. Innovative, imaginative, creative, brilliant. And it was his 50th birthday that night.

Erin Summers Norman – a local author who has not had the easiest of lives talked to us about her dream to publish her book – part life history – part social commentary. A determined lady with a golden heart who we expect will succeed.

Out4good – a local charity who have a number of houses in the area to enable young people who have fallen or been pushed to the wayside to have a chance at life. Their presentation was given by Siobhan who told her own story. Amongst the deatil was the very proud fact that she had not been spoken to by the police for 4 months. She started the presentation nervously and finished clearly proud of her achievement and basking in the support from the audience.

£296 ish went to Siobhan as the winner – another step up the ladder for her and we wish her all the very best in the future.


Colchester Essex May 2015 – Go4 Market Cafe Trinity Church Colchester

It was rather fitting that on Friday 8th May the 3rd Colchestersoup event took place at the home of GO4 Enterprises, the winner at our very first event. Holy Trinity Church is in the centre of Colchester and offers both a cafe run by GO4 and a mini-market with stalls offering a wide range of vintage goods.

With everyone sat around the proceedings started with the first pitch of the night. Colchester3d collective gave a from the heart talk about their desire to attend an art show despite cuts to their funding. Following on from art, we heard from sports enthusiasts Colchester Wildcats, who rather than needing the cash, were trying to attract more team members for their korfball games. For the third presentation, we heard how Susan was looking for funding for venues to host grief counselling training sessions.

With the presentations done, it was time to mingle and chat and enjoy the a bowl of warm soup having done the most important job of the evening, placing your voting token into one of the pots. By all accounts it looked like it was proving to be a difficult choice and this was born out by a very close count.

Time came for the announcement of the winner, a very respectful £277 and Karen was delighted to place this into the hands of Susan to continue her work offering training in grief counselling. As an extra bonus the winner of the raffle added her prize money to the pot pushing it just over £300. All was left was to thank everyone for coming, the volunteers who helped out and to announce that we will be back in July at the Emmaus warehouse, St. Osborne Street Colchester. Tickets are available here


More press.

sneaked up at us this one


Colchester Essex

March 2015



After the success of January’s soup it was time for our second outing on 13th March, ths time at Abbeygate Two in the town centre.

Soup was cooked, volunteers lined up, pr done and then we realised…..

Rednose Day overlap!

As well as red nose Colchester was seeing new opening nights at Firstsite and the Minories so a fair proportion of people were wandering off to see what was happening there. Never mind, we’d just get people to eat 3 or 4 bowls again!

Despite our worries around 40 people showed up keen to find out what was going on in their town and who needed help. And the BBC were there too, a bit of a coup for us :)

First up to present were Essex Feminist Collective who gave a pitch about the educational things they are doing around town including with youngsters. It’s a far further reaching group than we had imagined, teaching teenagers amongst others about the effects of some attitudes. They needed some cash to help to get their name out there a bit more. As it happens they were featured alongside us on BBC Essex radio later in the week so they did ok anyway.


Next up was Castlegate Day Care Centre, based right in the town centre. As an organisation they help people with differing needs cope with society, whether it is an insecure teenager or an older adult. Part of what they do includes craft skills, catering for those who are not necessarily academic but who may be skilled in other ways. They needed to replace a rusty kiln for their pottery classes.


And finally, Essex Raynet. This is an organisation that uses two way radios to help out communities. An example most of us recognise is the marshalling of such events as half marathons but others given included assisting Tendring Council with their Emergency Plan, helping Kent with ambulance distribution when there was a blip on their computer systems


Why would we need radio in this day of mobile technology? Easily explained by Essex Raynet by asking us to think of new years eve and the jam on the system as we all try to ring loved ones.

They needed to raise funds to get closer to their £2000 target to install an aerial on the Weston Homes Stadium.

Having answered the questions posed by an inquisitive audience it was soup, chat and decision time. Votes this time were pirate coins and the final count was actually very close. Castlegate Day Care Centre went from 0% to 20% of their funds needed for the kiln in the space of 2 hours. Well done guys!


Again we were amongst others in the room who had known nothing about some of the causes who pitched. Since the night we’ve been in touch with all of them. All three have got massive PR from the night. Colchestersoup went straight to the BBC World News Richer World pages and we have to thank Laurence Cawley for being an uber nice guy on the night, taking some fantastic photos (the ones we used here) and giving us a brilliant write up on the website.

The last we heard 5 new soups have started across the UK as a result of the web article from the North to the very south including one in a Cathedral – now there’s a challenge for us :)


Colchester Essex

January 2015

We’ve done it! The first event in Colchester has been and gone.

14. (2015-01-09) - Colchester Soup(Photo thanks to @adamroxby)

An amazing that night that exceeded our (very secret) hopes and dreams. More people, more groups, more money and some fantastic feedback. So we thought we might do it again…

This time:

Go4 Enterprises, represented by Pete Hope, presented their dream for a boat on the Hythe and explained that should they win the money it would go towards the survey on a historic boat that they have their eye on. As a group they train up NEETs, young people, and have a healthy presence in the town centre in Trinity Church. If you haven’t been there, check it out, it’s a little haven in the middle of town by the library and you can have quiet coffee. Surprisingly, to us, it appeared that their existence was news to some people in the room.

But then, that’s the idea of Colchestersoup.

Next up Friends of St Botolphs, represented by local legend Dave Harris. The group has taken it upon themselves to tidy and pretty up one of the most beautiful areas of our town. Great heritage building which still retains some intricate carving. He talked us through some history and then explained that if they won they would like to put the money towards a large planter, cost around £300. If not, then he was hopeful that he would draw attention to the group and maybe some people in the room would join in.

But then, that’s the idea of Colchestersoup.

Lastly it was over to Papworth Trust, represented by Ian Groom, who had driven from Harlow to be with us. Not very local? True, he’s not. But the charity works in the Colchester area. We hadn’t heard of them until December when we bumped into them in town and Ian’s go-getting attitude meant that they signed up relatively quickly. Papworth Trust help disabled people from all walks of life to enjoy life. Whether that is by helping with job applications, houses that suit, caring or counselling they’ll either have or know the people wih the experience to help. Ian explained that if they won then they’d use the money towards PR for the Trust, advertising etc. By the end of the evening we had to wonder if he’d already achieved that much PR in the room…

But then, that’s the idea of Colchestersoup.

Off for some soup….it was our first time so people bravely helped us out by eating 1,2,3,4 bowls of soup! Fortunately that was ok because it was excellent soup, praised around the room.

Votes in and the winner was announced. Go4 went home with £195.20.

Not bad for the first event…see you in March.

FYI the soup will not be the same soup.


Colchester, Essex

January 2015

We’re into the final week before the first Colchestersoup on 9th January so we’re taking the opportunity to address one of the questions we’ve been asked…..what happens on a soup night?

This is what happens……

Guests arrive and grab themselves a tea, coffee, soft drink.

While everyone’s getting a drink there are a number of local craftspeople dotted around the room. The intention is to showcase local talent, but if you want to buy their wares, they will be glad to sell them!

There’s also an events board, so if you have a local event coming up please do bring your flier so that you can promote it.

In addition we have been asked to provide a foodbank table so that a guest can bring unwanted foodstuffs. Since we’ve been asked, we will provide :)

Then it’s into presentations by the charities/causes. They’ll get 5 minutes each followed by time for a couple of questions.

After that one local organisation has asked to tell guests about their idea, but they’re not part of the vote.

It’s off to collect bowls of homemade vegetarian soup and a roll. More tea and coffee is there if wanted.

As soup is collected the voting pots are on the table ready for the votes to be cast.

While everybody enjoys getting to know their neighbours over a bowl of soup the votes are counted.

Just before the end the winner is announced and goes home with as much money as is collected on the door.

No costs are deducted from the £5 suggested donation door money.

This event has been fully funded by Colchestersoup.

We think this covers it but if we’re wong and you have a question please do contact us on facebook, twitter or in the comments section below.

If you’re coming along please do let us know so that we have an idea of numbers – at the moment we’re catering for the hall’s maximum capacity.

We look forward to seeing you!


Colchester, Essex

December 2014

It’s been a hectic month! From a spur of the moment decision inspired by Southend Soup it’s been all systems go to get Soup off the ground in Colchester.

In the last month we have got posters, postcards, business cards, website, twitter, facebook, streetlife, press articles all sorted out and distributed. We’ve talked to a lot of people, explained the idea we don’t know how many times…

We’ve suffered the agony of waiting to see if any charity/cause/person would take a chance on the idea, breathed a sigh of relief when one did, and endured more agony as we waited for others to join in. And then they did too…

We’ve rounded up the volunteers, got the catering arranged, bought a few bowls, ladles and soup pots. Tasted loads of soup.

Organised an events board so that everybody there can promote their own events on the night, invited some local craftspeople along to let us all see some of the most amazing crafts in Colchester, wondered whether to have a food bank table-put that one to the vote-results are in and there will be a table there if you’d like to put anything on it.

Now we’re sort of aware of how many people will be coming and we’re erring on the side of too much rather than too little. :)

If you’re coming and haven’t let us know, please do, either on facebook or here, just to give us an idea of numbers.

But if it gets to the night and you didn’t let us know – then tell us at the door and we’ll be glad to welcome you


Southend, Essex
November 2014

In a little quiet town in Essex called Southend there is a lady who just thinks things should happen.
So she goes for it.
Sheryl, who goes by the name of @fullerarty on Twitter, had heard about Detroit Soup on Radio 4.
Deciding it is a good idea she resolved to make it happen in Southend.
We saw Southend Soup on twitter, could it be the same as the Detroit idea we’d heard of?
Yes, and it was in 2 days time.
Coats on, car started and a trip down to Belle Vue Baptist Church in Southend who had offered to be the hosts for the fourth event.
On reaching the church we were welcomed and made to feel immediately at home in a room of around 40-50 people, none of whom we knew.
Chat and a coffee and it was time for the very quick intro before 3 people got their chance to pitch for support for their ideas.

First up
Wiggley bags. Colchestersoup
What’s a wiggley bag? Debbie Davey presented and explained that her son had had cancer as a child. He’d needed to have a IV line inserted into his chest wall and this dangled at the front of him. The hospital solution is apparently a bag with a thin cord to tie at the back of the neck which can cause discomfort to the children. So she’d designed a cloth one for him with his favourite characters on that had a tie that didn’t hurt. It wasn’t long before all the children on the ward wanted one and her bags were in demand. Now she makes them for hospitals as far afield as Scotland and the USA and Canada. She has a group of around 10 people sporadically making the bags.
She dosn’t charge the hospitals either for material or postage.
Since these have been so popular she’s now been tasked to design and make special belly button protectors for the same children using a highly specialised material to stop them getting acid burns from the drugs.
Still no cash reward.

Second to the floor
Just listening to you
Bernie Bentley who told us about her way to help people with mental health issues, maybe by listening and supporting, but also by adding her own cash to their funds if they couldn’t afford the counsellor. She used her own art to try to get across the effects of mental incapacity.
She has people sent to her by health authorities and mental health institutions.
She was asking for some cash to help those who found it particularly difficult to articulate their problems have access to a dance/arts/craft counsellor who may be able to help them get some peace.
All from her own money so far

last but not least
Presented by a lady from Ecuador the idea is that people in the Southend area have the opportunity to learn Spanish and that Spanish speakers in the area can enjoy a meeting conversing in their own language.
This was a very good presentation by someone whose first language is not English, but Spanish was just one of many languages available in the room that night.
As part of her presentation a lesson in learning to count in Spanish from 1-10 was offered, with a prize if you got it right.

Only 3 ideas were given the chance to be a part of the voting that night but more people in the room wanted to tell everybody about themselves. So….

Southend Food Bank gave us an idea of how extensive the problem is in Southend and asked for volunteers in various roles. They have, we believe, 3 different outlets in the town.

And then CAST Southend, Stanford talked a bit about their activities and the struggles faced by people who come to them destitute.
They feed them, on occasion put them up in their homes, talk to them, clothe them and assist if at all possible.

Community and Asylum Seekers Together
They’d opted not to present as part of the voting element this time but may well do so on another occasion.

We’d heard of exactly none of the groups so the PR value has to be taken into account when considering the value of such an evening to a group.

Soup time and a chance to wander around the edges of the room and have a look at the crafts on offer on tables the size of trays.
Lithuanian decoupage


Beautiful decoupage skills from a Lithuanian lady with her daughter doing most of the talking on her behalf. It struck us as strange that one of the first words learned in this country should be decoupage.

Raw chocolate available for sale at another pitch and a lesson with Ecuadorian prize at another.
Further round, a table with a collection in aid of Food Bank stood adorned with that evenings offerings of canned chick peas in the main.

Incidental music provided by Warty Hubbard and his magic cupboard.

In a canteen with people mingling and deliberately sitting at tables where they didn’t know everyone it was time for the announcement of the winner.
£165 up for grabs.
But who won?
Youtube of the announcement is here.

And shortly after the announcement we happened to overhear the winner offering the second placed half of the cash. It was simply that sort of evening.