Here at 1 Brighton FM we take our responsibilities as a community station extremely serious. As we gear up for our move to the FM band we’re keen to shine a light on the excellent work some of our community partners deliver. First up: BrightonSoup.
How long has BrightonSoup been running?
BrightonSoup began on a fairly sunny day in June 2015. It was the brainchild of Will, Karin and Nikki Anjou who, driven by a need to make a change to their local communities and inspired by the Detroit Soup phenomenon, created BrightonSoup.
What are the aims of the project?
Our aim is to positively increase community engagement and grass roots funding for local community initiatives for the benefit of Brighton & Hove. We do this by hosting community project funding events across the city where all the ticket money paid by the attendees is given to a community project via means of a public vote. Imagine a Community Dragons’ Den! Everyone who comes along and contributes gets a bowl of soup, food to share, some entertainment and a VOTE!
How often do you meet?
The hub of our operations is at the Anjou kitchen. What better place to meet and plan world Soup domination than in the heart of the home? Firstly it’s free (always important when you have limited funds), the kettle is always on and we are overrun by animals at all points. We meet as regularly as possible, maybe every few weeks and then on an ad-hoc basis at Intenso on Portland Road. Our activities are generally based around hot beverages and cake..
How do people find out when to come along?
As all of the team either works, travels and volunteers elsewhere, we have to be flexible about dates. However, the best way to come and meet us is to contact us via the website or email one of the team. Best of all, come to one of our funding nights! You will be hooked.
Tell us about the Detroit link
Detroit was a massive industrial heartland, providing mass employment and the main generator of wealth for the city. When that went bust, Detroit as a city – and importantly as a community – slid into wholesale economic deprivation and social decline. In 2010 Amy Kaherl set up DetroitSoup as a way to empower the community to support each other and work together to improve the city.
It’s a very simple idea that easily translates to other countries and cities and particularly Brighton which is so alive with community groups and creative and innovative thinkers.
Obviously there are severe social depravation issues in Detroit, where do you see the parallels with Brighton?
As with any city, Brighton has its share of issues. Despite the high cost of living in the city there are 14 areas of Brighton and Hove in the bottom one per cent of the country for low income deprivation. The huge variation across the city in crime rates, educational achievement, employment rates and housing provisions were detailed in 2015 by the Government’s Indices of Deprivation report.
Areas of incredible wealth sit side by side with areas of significant need. This offers BrightonSoup the opportunity of bringing those communities together to help each, tapping into goodwill, energy and the knowledge to narrow the gap and make the city a happier, fairer city.
Is it rolled out to other parts of the UK?
It is! The UK has been one of the biggest adopters of the initiative and we are in contact with many of our fellow Soupers. We have visited a number of them already and we had a visit at our last event from the BoroSoup (Middlesbrough) team.
Which of the projects have demonstrated ideas that have really impressed you?
Every project has value. I don’t think there has been one idea or project that hasn’t clicked with us in some way. However, some of the stand-out projects for us have been those that would otherwise not have come to the attention of the local community or address a need that we hadn’t previously been aware. For example, Stoneham Bakehouse which is a community bakery, supported by the community with all profits put back into the community; or CHOMP, providing a free healthy lunch and fun activities to children and their families who struggle to eat well during the school holidays. Other brilliant initiatives such as Sussex Prisoner Families, offering volunteers to support families in the immediate aftermath of a family member being convicted, EARS (Elder Abuse Recovery) supporting elderly people who have suffered abuse and then there’s Rhythmix, a music therapy charity. These have all inspired the BrightonSoup team and our soup supporters over the last year.
How does it work once a visitor has made a successful pitch?
Every pitch is successful! It’s not just about winning on the night, it’s about making sustainable networks, connecting to the community and raising awareness to your idea and project and getting offers of help that aren’t just about money; volunteer time, IT equipment and expertise, tips and ideas to make each project more successful.
However, if they win the pot, then we announce it on the night and then organise for the money to reach them as soon as possible. What attracts projects to BrightonSoup is the lack of red tape and long drawn out applications for funding support that they have to do day in/day out. At BrightonSoup, we make it accessible, simple and fun. And they can always come back!
Do you have examples of where a pitch has progressed into tangible success?
We have hundreds of stories!! And at every event we have a previous winner come and talk to us about what they have achieved since they won.
Sam Hart, of Sussex Prisoners’ Families, took £893 to train volunteers for her Court Support Project. This amount allowed them to train three volunteers that will help 50 people per year – that’s roughly 200 people when you count the families.
Lucy Stone, Rhythmix, runner Up at The Crypt in April 2016:
“So far funds for a brand new laptop; someone (offered) to shave their head for fundraising; links to someone who reconditions old computers; someone who wants to volunteer; a link to a funder that gives £10K grants for IT equipment… We’ve had great offers of support and are so grateful to have had this opportunity – many thanks to you and the team.”
Julian and Ali from FreeUniversity Brighton who won the pot but decided to split it with the other projects (so much love!) came back to tell us that the money has helped them to continue giving free education for all regardless of your ability to pay by providing consistent learning spaces. They have approximately 40 people studying an accredited free university degree.
There was a welcome return from Simon Cobb from Stoneham Bakehouse who won £352.50 at our last event to help purchase a really rather beautiful Elephant Bike to help share the benefits of baking as therapy for the community
And there are so many more!!!
How do people get involved?
We want wonderful, helpful (good at carrying), energetic and brilliant volunteers to come along to our events and do some general supportive helping out. To get involved, go to the website www.brightonsoup.org and follow us on twitter #brightonsoup or Facebook @brightonsoup and follow us
Do you have any tips for participants?
As part of working with BrightonSoup and pitching at the events, we provide two hours of pitch training because we know that no matter how friendly the group is (and they are always lovely) it can be overwhelming and challenging to get your project information into four minutes!
So we always say: keep it simple, tell the story of why you are involved as that helps brings it to life and be specific about what the money would be for and what benefits it would bring. But more than anything, deliver it with passion and confidence!
How does your participation in 1 Brighton FM fit into your strategy?
We are a community group who want to connect to a community and 1Brighton FM is fantastic community radio! Music is an integral part of our Soup events and we try to showcase local up and coming talent to complement the events.
What does a typical BrightonSoup show include?
There’s no such thing as a ‘typical’ show. Mike Willis (who presents the show) often comes up with a musical theme at the very last minute and chooses tracks that fit. Sometimes he will put a shout out on Facebook for requests but other than that anything goes! Mike, has recently moved to the UK from Nashville, Tennessee where he enjoyed a successful career as a professional musician. Where we can we often have interviews with people who have pitched or helped out at one of our events. Sometimes we even get the musicians who play at the event to do a couple of live tracks on air.
Mike Willis’ Facebook page
Mike Willis’ Soundcloud page