With November on the near horizon (you’ll see the connection in a moment), The Pig Guide is delighted to give a big pig shout-out to the Genesis Trust Soup Run, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. This invaluable Bath institution is a local community project run by 340+ volunteers of all ages from fifteen Bath churches, all of whom work in teams to provide soup, sandwiches, cakes and hot drinks to homeless and vulnerable people in the city 365 nights a year… regardless of the weather.
The soup run began back in 1990 when local woman Gail Hodges encountered two young homeless men rummaging through a bin for food in a Bath car park. Gail chatted to the men, and arranged to meet them the following night to offer them fresh, homemade soup and sandwiches. As news of Gail’s initiative grew, her friends – and later, several churches – got involved; last year, the project delivered an astounding 11,800 portions of soup to those in need on the streets of Bath. Soup Run teams make homemade soup using whatever vegetables are in season, topping the supply up with tinned soup when necessary. But despite different soups being available, those who turn up are guaranteed a cup of something warm and nourishing – and much, much more. “Our clients are not all homeless people sleeping on the streets,” says Soup Run coordinator Cheryl Hannan. “Some have such basic accommodation that they can’t cook a hot meal, or their benefit money may have run out and they need help until the next payment arrives. Some clients are lonely or suffer from mental health issues; others have alcohol or drug related problems, or have become homeless because of marital breakdown or sudden loss of job. What all our clients have in common, though, is that the Soup Run offers a place to come and get food and drink without being questioned as to why they’re there, and offers an opportunity to socialise with others in similar circumstances.” “The fact that the Soup Run has continued every night for over 25 years is a massive tribute to all the volunteers and a testament to the faith that encourages them to keep on giving their time and their compassion month after month, year after year, ” adds Genesis Trust founder Sir Peter Heywood. “The reason the project has survived for a quarter of a century is due to the unwavering dedication of those who run it”.
To celebrate the longevity of the project and to thank the volunteers who run it, the Genesis Trust recently held a party at which three of Bath’s top chefs – Rachel Demuth (Demuths Vegetarian Cookery School), Chris Staines (Allium Brasserie) and Rob Clayton (Clayton’s Kitchen) – served delicious soups to the many people involved with this vital service. Rachel, Chris and Rob (see picture) are this year’s patrons of the charity’s Souper November fundraising initiative, and will also be serving soup from their kitchens to support the campaign… and here’s how we can all get involved.
The Genesis Trust are asking you to make your favourite soup and invite friends, colleagues or family to get together and share it with you in return for a donation to the charity. You can download invitations, a poster and tasty recipe suggestions from the website, and it’s up to you how much you charge for the soup, whether you ask for a donation or set a fixed price. Meanwhile, several of Bath’s leading chefs, local cafes, restaurants and farm shops are also backing the campaign, including Best of British, Chapel Arts Cafe, the Green Bird Cafe, Beyond the Kale, the Bath Brew House and Newton St Loe Farm Shop; for the full and regularly updated list of participants – and to add your business to the list! – visit the website.
Come on, Piggies: let’s make November a Souper month to remember.