On Thursday 15th February, I had the pleasure of going to the first ever Liskeard SOUP and was completely blown away.

In a nutshell, SOUP events are micro granting dinners where people come together and support ideas which will benefit the community. Created in Detroit in 2010, the SOUP model is a fantastic way to get people talking about their community and give projects or ideas the boost they need to get their idea off the ground through seed funding. The difference with SOUP, is that the community decides who should get the funding.

For Liskeard SOUP, we’re especially interested in Health and Wellbeing and how grassroots action can fill gaps in public services. So how do these SOUP events work exactly? It’s quite simple really. The audience pays £5 on the door, which gets them soup, bread and vote (denoted by a pebble). Four projects are presented, and each has just four minutes to share their idea. No technology allowed, just them and the audience. After they’ve explained what their project is all about, the audience can ask up to four questions to delve in a bit deeper. When they’ve heard from all four, the audience get together to discuss the projects and which one they think will benefit the town most. Voting is complete when the audience have placed their pebbles into the bowl for their chosen project. Whoever has the most pebbles wins all the money collected at the door. Thanks to the Liskeard Place Based Pilot top up fund, first place also won £500 in addition to the door money, and £350 was awarded to the project in second place. This money will be used as seed funding to get these projects off the ground.

It was incredible to hear that so many fantastic projects applied to the first Liskeard SOUP. The four who presented on the night were:

  • Hyperznx with their social sessions and events to reduce isolation
  • Creative Gym restorative creative sessions for everyone to enjoy
  • Liskeard Community Action with Liskeard’s first Community Swap Shop
  • Cymaz Music with Anella, a Liskeard singing group for people with lung conditions

Having heard from all four presenters, I would have found it extremely difficult to choose who should get my vote. Luckily, I wasn’t voting as it only felt right that Volunteer Cornwall should be impartial and leave the decision up to the local community.

Once each of the four projects had done their presentations there was lots of chatting and more trips to the bar whilst the audience tried to decide which bowl would get their pebble. Finally Ed from Real Ideas Organisation put the four groups out of their misery and announced that Cymaz Music’s project Anella had come second and the most votes had gone to Liskeard Community Action and their Community Swap Shop.

The Swap Shop clearly captured the audience’s imagination and I didn’t blame them. Liskeard Community Action already host events for the whole community, provide free secondhand children’s clothing for people most in need and run fun play sessions for little ones and their parents. Their vision is for a Swap Shop where people can literally swap anything. This could see people in Liskeard sharing their skills, passions, food, clothes, toys, just name it and you can swap it. Ideally the Swap Shop would be on Liskeard High Street to give the group more visibility thus increasing the number of people who will drop in and start swapping.

Huge congratulations to Liskeard Community Action and Anella as well as everyone who applied to present at Liskeard SOUP. It’s great to know that those who didn’t get funding or the chance to present this time round, can apply to present at future Liskeard SOUP events.

Liskeard SOUP is a great example of the great things that can happen when people rally behind something. Real Ideas Organisation organised the event and I assisted with sending out invites to my contacts in Liskeard, who then went on to share it with people they knew. The Barley Sheaf pub in Liskeard very kindly lent us their function room for the evening and Jess from the Real Junk Food Project Plymouth provided the soup and bread for free! Using food which would have otherwise gone to waste. And it didn’t stop there, on the night, I couldn’t help but notice people left right and centre chatting about what they do, sharing information and getting inspired about all the great ways they can work together.

I for one am very excited to hear how Liskeard Community Action and Anella get on with their projects and to see who will be presenting next time.

For more details about second Liskeard SOUP on Thursday 15th March and to register to come along or submit your idea, visit: https://liskeardsoup.org/

We hope to see you there!

Laura Smith

Social Action Co-ordinator, Liskeard Place Based Pilot