Dudley Soup: my journey into Community Activism

By Helen Grice, Uber PA and Trainee Social Media Guru

So I had a little girl.  2 years and 3 months ago.  Lets get the clichés out of the way right now – she is the best thing that has happened to me in my thirty-nine years on this earth, and from the time I got my head around motherhood (it took me nearly a year to find my groove and really start enjoying being a parent…no one can ever really convey to you how difficult, frightening and lonely those first few months of motherhood are…but hey that’s for another blog, another day) she has inspired me to be a better version of me.

Since she came along, I try to be more patient, more forgiving, more tolerant, less stressed and to live in and live for the moment.  And as someone who feels pretty blessed (job, house, family, health) I’m also trying to be more generous to set an example for her.

Before she came along, I donated a fiver here and there to various causes.  I’ve adopted 4 rescue cats over the years.  I donated via a workplace scheme to whatever their chosen charity was at the time.   But that was the sum total of my generosity, until one day in March when I ended up getting lost in a Twitter hole (we’ve all been there – admit it!) and stumbled across a shout out from CoLab Dudley asking for help from people who would like to set up Dudley Soup.

From previous Twitter stalking I was already vaguely familiar with Birmingham Soup, which is held regularly at ImpactHub in Digbeth, and I was really drawn to the simplicity of it and the fact that someone with a spark of an idea can walk away with a little money to use to make a difference within their community. The basic premise of Soup is that of a Crowdfunding Dinner where four people or groups come along with an idea that will benefit the local community and pitch their plans to the audience/diners. The audience then gets four questions to ask of the ‘pitcher’. Then everyone sits down for soup and bread to discuss all four pitches and to vote (anonymously) on who they think should walk away with the donations taken on the door (£5 is the suggested amount).  When all the votes have been counted, the winner is announced and the money is awarded to them with only one caveat; please return to a future Soup meeting and let everyone know how they are moving forward.

I loved the fact that there are no strings attached, no corporate involvement, no paperwork to bog people down, just an idea, a vote and some soup.  So with some trepidation (I’m an introvert – meeting and talking to strangers is something I’m not entirely comfortable with yet), one sunny day back in April, I headed to the DY1 venue in Dudley to meet people who hopefully felt the same as me and wanted to get more involved in helping the community we live in.  I needn’t have been nervous.  The people I met there that night were absolutely fantastic and friendly.  They are all very active in the Dudley Borough, working on behalf of various charities and in other community-collaborative fields, so I was the only ‘outsider’, yet I have never been made to feel like one by this lovely group of people.

Together, we are a team with backgrounds in social enterprise, management, the arts, outreach, project management, administration…you name it and we’ve got someone who could do it!  We all bring different skill sets to the table which will help us make Dudley Soup a great thing.   Most of us aren’t 100% confident with social media strategy so I’m learning ‘on the job’ as it were, building a website (this one!) and learning how to leverage from our vast collaborative Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn connections (something which I don’t think we’ve utilised to it’s full extent yet).  I haven’t got a social media marketing background but what I have got is this crazy obsession to learn it and apply it to maximise Dudley Soup’s far reaching potential.

So what’s next? Well, me and my fellow Soup Activists have set the date for the first Dudley Soup – Thursday 29th September at 7pm at DY1 in Dudley.

If you’d like to come along to Dudley Soup and hear what exciting plans that your neighbours are trying to launch in your community then you are more than welcome to join in on 29th September.

If you have an idea that you think will benefit the Dudley Borough, and you’d like to pitch for a little cash boost to get your plan off the ground, or maybe you need a little lift to take your project to the next level, then please get in touch, and I can explain more about the brilliant Dudley Soup.

1 thought on “Dudley Soup: my journey into Community Activism”

  1. Well done Helen, you have inspired me to try writing a Blog too! I am sure that this will inspire prospective ‘Soupers’ to join us on 29th September at the first ever Dudley Soup.

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