A SIMPLE networking idea is helping to connect communities in Bradford.
The basis for Bradford Community Soup is for charities and organisations to pitch their ideas about their enterprises or initiatives to the gathered guests in the hope of receiving funding to develop their ideas.
Appropriately christened as 'soup' is the fodder at this charitable dining event, Bradford Community Soup is held every three months at The Storehouse, a central hub for the distribution of surplus food donated from supporters, which operates a pay-as-you-feel cafe.
Since its inception earlier this year, the idea appears to be swiftly expanding with many communities within Bradford and beyond using it as a foundation to help people flourish.
Among the charities and organisations who have benefitted from being part of Bradford Community Soup is Hope Housing.
Based in Bradford, Hope Housing works with the homeless, providing emergency accommodation at its assessment centre and in volunteers homes throughout the city for people who have nowhere to stay for that night.
Ruth Davison, the charity's Chief Executive Officer, says they are hoping to use the donation they received from their recent successful pitch to the Bradford Community Soup to help develop their 'Beat the Boredom' campaign.
She explains following consultations with their homeless clients they are hoping to create a structured programme of activities of things they would like to do on a weekend when many other services are closed.
"We think the money could be a pathway to secure funding from other funding sources so we can set something up more permanent to put on more activities," says Ruth.
Other charities to successfully pitch at the Bradford Community Soup event, which was supported by Bradford Brewery, are Cecil Green Arts, a Bradford-based arts group which re-located to Darley Street in the city after losing many of its materials in a fire at its previous home within Drummonds Mill.
Harry Kingham, one of the three artistic directors involved in Cecil Green Arts, says they hoped to put their part of the funding towards their Lantern Parade in the Autumn.
"We are just getting back on our feet and knowing that we have been successful at Bradford Community Soup will help us with our future projects," he says.
Another beneficiary is a menstrual protection and education project charity worker, Tina Leslie is busy developing in the city.
Talking about her experience of Bradford Community Soup, Tina says: "I think it is really good and I think it benefits. If you are passionate about it people see it. Opportunities like this are few and far between.
"It is trying to make a difference to the community and that is what we want to do and get the community working together as well. Bringing the community together with a common goal."
Juli Thompson, who helps to run The Storehouse as part of the Inn Churches network which developed from a month-long pilot into a thriving community project supporting the homeless and vulnerable by providing accommodation in Bradford churches throughout the winter months, explains many charities are struggling due to funding cuts.
Juli, who is the chief executive officer/project manager of Inn Churches, says Bradford Community Soup gives them the opportunity to talk about their work to a wider audience in the hope of gaining some investment.
Working with Bradford Rotary Clubs, including Bradford Bronte whose president, Caroline Murie, has become involved with projects at The Storehouse, they hope to boost audiences and help as many worthy causes as possible.
Juli says the aim of Bradford Community Soup is to 'connect with communities.'
"Our hope is that we can feed some new projects and increase community involvement because I think a lot of good stuff goes on in Bradford," explains Juli.
Caroline says Bradford Community Soup has the potential to make Bradford a better place: "I am so excited about it. It has the potential to do so much and it is good for so many people with minimal effort. It spreads goodwill and positivity around."
She says they now hope they can spread the word and encourage more people to come along to the future Bradford Community Soup events. The next takes place on November 17.
For more information about Bradford Community Soup and future events call 07833 450482 or contact The Storehouse, 116 Caledonia Street, Bradford.
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