I'd been aware of Only A Pavement Away for a while, knowing it as a relatively new
charity, whose aim is to provide stable employment for the homeless, ex-offenders and vulnerable veterans and start them on careers within the hospitality industry. I've always been a huge fan of the charity, because it addresses some really important issues:
Helping the homeless, ex-offenders and vulnerable veterans to gain meaningful employment where they can have a career path and a successful future
Addressing the skills shortage in the hospitality industry - a diverse industry where you can have a hugely successful and fulfilling career
I got involved during the pandemic, as while I was honing my AdWords skills, I was looking to put my skills into practise, so approached OAPA to see if I could help them. I'd almost met with the founder Greg a few times previously, and we have lots of friends in common, so it wasn't a cold call, but a 'Hey, I'd like to get involved - here's what I can do!'.
He introduced me to the amazing Karen, who is the Fundraising and Marketing Lead, and after talking for a bit we were discussing the Christmas fundraising campaign and Winter Warmth. This is an annual campaign where they collect donations of warm clothing, sleeping bags and toiletries to provide to homeless people over the Christmas period. She also mentioned that they were planning a matched fundraising campaign with The Big Give Christmas Challenge for Christmas, and that it was a challenge... which got me thinking...
Stock, Aikens & Saucepan
The Big Give Christmas Challenge (TBGCC) sounded really interesting, because every penny they raise during The Big Give will be match-funded - essentially, all cash donated will be doubled during the week of 1st-8th December. When me and Karen had the initial discussion about TBGCC, what we found was that OAPA was lacking at the time was an actual 'challenge'. OAPA are lucky enough to have an amazing ambassador - Michelin starred Chef Tom Aikens - which provides them with a huge platform if they get the message right. Earlier in the summer, they ran a hugely successful Five Minute Feast cookery challenge, where supporters were tasked with filming five minute videos of them making a full meal in five minutes. They raised £3,000 in a few weeks, and this went a long way to funding some of their Winter Warmth campaign.
It basically came to me in the conversation with Karen, with my mind whirring and my maths calculating that winter + warmth = soup! The next thing I know, we're planning the launch for the #ServeOurSoup challenge, and we have our challenge for TBGCC! The premise is very simple...
Create a soup which contains five ingredients
Donate £5 to Only A Pavement Away as a part of your entry
Tag five friends and get them to give it a go!
Soup is perfect for the cold nights ahead and a challenge like this is brilliant, because the only soup I ever tend to make at home is squash - so I'm desperate for something new! With lockdown in full swing and furloughed chefs looking for inspiration, I really hope that they'll get their hobs fired up and blenders going. The campaign is now in full swing, and people are entering their soups ready to be judged by Tom.
Also, I kinda feel like I can take the rest of the year off after coming up with Stock, Aikens and Saucepan. I really doubt that I can come up with anything better this year, it's been tough enough as it is. For now, I will be making lots of soup.