Phil Williams: What can I do about it?

In one of the richest countries in the world there is still so much need all around us. Is the answer big fundraising events like Comic Relief, or are there other ways to try to offer help?

OK, I’m a sucker for Comic Relief. I thought all those years ago, what a fabulous thing for my comedy heroes to do. When I watched Lenny Henry and Billy Connelly this year, I felt just as proud of them. I was moved by the footage of the projects they support, but I was left with a ‘but’.

My ‘but’ was reinforced by some newspaper comment I read afterwards. In some way Comic Relief has lost its edge. The problems that need addressing are massive and perhaps need to be tackled in different ways.

I was reminded, I admit oddly, of a remark I read, whilst researching my book War on Wheels, made by the US head of Ordnance in WW2 when he was talking about the massive challenge he faced in equipping the US Army. He answered with a question, ‘how do you eat an elephant?’

I am not advocating eating endangered species, rather I am taking a steer from his advice to tackle large issues in an accumulation of small acts.

The question, though, ‘what can I do about it?’, is born out of frustration, as was Compassionate Lincoln born out of the frustration of being able to do nothing about the refugee crisis.

This was then followed by a frustration of not knowing how to tackle so many social problems closer to home. This frustration though was requited by finding small projects running throughout our city which each in its own small way makes a small difference, but together…

The meeting of two frustrations, that of wishing to help but not knowing how and that of having an idea of how to help but not have the wherewithal to effect it, come together in the Big Soup.

The Big Lincoln Soup is an opportunity for people with ideas for projects, events or interventions designed to make a difference to the community to make a pitch for the investment of all ticket money raised on the day to help turn their plans into reality.

Members of the public can buy tickets for a lunch (soup of course!) at Lincoln Drill Hall, during which invited individuals or groups will pitch their ideas. The audience will then discuss the ideas over lunch and cast their votes for the project they’d most like to invest in.

Pitches will be a maximum of five minutes long and up to five questions will be taken from the audience.

The Big Soup will take place at Lincoln Drill Hall from 11.30 to 1.30 on Saturday 13 May 2017.

We’d welcome any pitch that offers a positive response to a challenge facing communities in the city. It could be a football coaching session for young people in a community with limited recreational opportunities; a community gardening project; a street party to help neighbours get to know one another; a mural to brighten up a neighbourhood; the hiring of a van to transport items donated for a charitable collection… There are so many possibilities!

Organised by CompassionateLincoln, this is the second in a series of similar events that seek to support local people in having the resources and confidence to make a difference in their community.

To ensure that all ticket money goes directly to support the selected project, lunch will be sponsored by Cafe Shanti, based on Clasketgate in Lincoln.

Other sponsors of the event are Lincoln Drill Hall and OpenPlan, a locally-based placemaking studio.

Got a great idea?

People with an idea that they’d like to pitch at the event should [email protected] by no later than midnight on Friday, April 28 to request an application form.

Like to come along?

Tickets are available from Lincoln Drill Hall Box Office website here, or by calling 01522 873894