Published on: 11/11/19, 11:43 am
Hungry pedestrians will be braving the cold winter’s day with the promise of delicious hot soup and fresh bread, live music and some friendly conversation. The warm-fuzzy feeling will not stop there as they can buy their soup in the knowledge that all the proceeds from this charitable annual event will go directly to Bedford’s homeless.
For Bedford’s homeless community, as the nights draw in, and temperatures drop, day-to-day survival can be a real challenge. The pavement is a hard mattress, a damp sleeping bag a poor excuse for a duvet, and any kind of future, apart from getting through the night unscathed can be almost impossible to imagine. SoupFest is trying to help.
So what exactly is SoupFest? SoupFest is an annual festival of soup celebrating Bedfordshire’s talented chefs & raising money for the homeless at the same time. Local businesses and volunteers pull together in order to set up and run the one day event, selling homemade soup donated by restaurants from across the county - from Paris House to The Plough at Bolnhurst - and bread from our local bakeries.
Local choirs and musicians perform throughout the day, entertaining the SoupFesters and encouraging them to stop a while and talk to each other, making new friends and reacquainting themselves with old ones.
In addition to this, local homeless organisations are invited to be a part of the day. They are at the event to tell the public about the services they provide, and listen to any concerns or queries people might have about the rough sleepers in Bedford. They can also share information about how the public might be able to help alleviate some of the issues surrounding the homelessness issue in Bedford.
SoupFest was established by local businesswoman Emma Garrett in 2017 after she was inspired to do so by a similar event in Jersey, Channel Islands, set up some 20 years ago:
“In the past three years we have been able to issue grants that have been of direct benefit to Bedford’s homeless population in a number of ways. For example, some of the money we have raised has gone to help purchase a washing machine and dryer for the Salvation Army so rough sleepers can wash their clothes. We have paid for replacement birth certificates and passports in order to provide ID to claim benefits via the King’s Arms Project. We have paid for starter packs for people moving from homelessness into YMCA hostels and we have funded soup and sandwiches for outreach work in Bedford Town Centre by Emmaus Village. Small grants can really make an enormous difference.”
Events like SoupFest take an inordinate amount of organising but this one certainly seems to have captured the imagination of local volunteers, chefs and businesses alike which means that all the proceeds can go to the homeless, which is after all, what SoupFest is about.
“Mediafix Online is responsible for all our graphic design work, DBM Motion Graphics creates some wonderful animations, Sherpa Marketing has sponsored all our printing. Without these businesses and other local firms getting behind us, the event would not be as successful as it is. We are also delighted to be one of the Waitrose Green Token chosen charities for November so are urging all our supporters to shop in the Bedford, Goldington Road store, and to put heir green tokens in the SoupFest pot.” said Emma Garrett.
Local business owner Rob Birnie, had this to say;
“SoupFest, as well as being such an enjoyable event, reminds you of how fortunate you are to have access to food, company and a roof over your head. It helps people who don’t have what many of us take for granted”
Laura Holmes a local independent businesswoman who has supported the event since its inception observes:
“Anyone of us could hit a bump in life’s road and find ourselves losing a job, unable to pay our rent or mortgage and losing our homes. Homelessness can affect anyone and this is why I love an event like SoupFest - during the space of a few hours, you see a whole town come together with one clear objective.”
SoupFest is here to help the homeless community. Please show your support on Tuesday 3rd December 11.30am - 3.30pm in the Harpur Square.