Project Soup saw in 2nd week with a lot of crusty bread and yummy social action (did I mention the soup?). Over 80 students and Oxford residents came together in East Oxford Community Centre to share soup, cake and live music. The main feature of the night was listening to pitches from 6 different social action based groups. The projects were truly diverse and imaginative, ranging from bee-saving devices, to an empowering film project on women in science. In an ethical version of Dragons Den, we the audience voted for our favourite project to take home the cash, and last Sunday it was Iffley Open House and Sexpression were the chosen charities. I caught up with two committee members, Jun Yee, a fresher from Balliol, and Sarah Lee, a master’s student from Teddy Hall, to talk more about combining parsnip and apple, amongst other things…
Anna Klaptocz: Why did you get involved in Project Soup (PS)?
Sarah-Lee (SL): Oxford can be a bubble; I wanted to connect to the city. Volunteering always does that, but PS bridges the gap between the Town vs Gown divide particularly well.
Jun Yee (JY): My motivations were very similar… and at the same time, I’m really interested in environmental issues like food waste, which we combat by using left over ingredients for our soup from Food Banks and restaurants.
AK: On the subject of food, you didn’t know what you were going to receive from the donors till literally the day of the PS- what was that like?
SL: I learnt there was such a thing as parsnip apple soup! It is nerve-racking, but also a creative process. The food bank gave us a lot of potatoes (25kg!) so we combined that with beetroot and tomatoes to make one of the soups.
AK: That one tasted so good!
JY: The volunteers had to take some of the potatoes home, we didn’t manage to use them all!
AK: As a new committee, it was your first PS: how did you find organising the event, and were there any ‘panicky’ moments?
JY: Yeah, I had one of those actually- I was in charge of the community groups, and with 2-3 weeks to go, we hadn’t had many sign ups, we were asking round people we knew.
SL: …but then we ended up with 6 projects; they all came on one day!
AK: Do you have any tips for a group wanting to apply to PS, and any advice for the pitch?
SL: Don’t bring a PowerPoint- its not a formal presentation- we want you to engage as much as possible with people. Focus on the link to Oxford: why here? What do you really want to change? Even if you don’t get the money, it’s a good chance to spread the word about what you’re doing.
AK: When will the next PS be and how can people get involved?
SL: It will be at some point at the beginning of next term. We’re always looking for people to get involved, whether that’s long term to shape project soup, or help out on the day in the kitchen, or any artists looking to play live music! You can get in touch on Facebook (Project Soup Oxford) or via our website (http://projectsoupoxford.weebly.com/ ).
Project Soup is part of the Oxford Hub, a network connecting students to volunteering and social action groups. If you want to find out more about volunteering, check out our website and sign up to our mailing list to receive a weekly roundup of feel-good events and opportunities: https://www.oxfordhub.org/