Hayley- Moon and Womb Medicine Woman

Divine Feminine Magic, Shamanism, and General Witchy Hippy Vibes!

The Great Southend Soup Unconference

on October 12, 2015

My amazing friend Sherry runs ‘Southend Soup’

If you don’t know about the Soup movement, take a look at her blog that I’ve linked to above, but in a nutshell it’s a community project that brings people together to share their ideas, people pay a donation, vote for their favourite idea, and then whoever wins the vote wins the money that has been donated. You also get to eat tasty soup! Sherry always makes sure the soup is vegan so more people can eat it, and she often has a theme for each meeting. I went to a book theme one and few people including myself had a chance to share their work as well as get free books.

Anyway, she’s been doing this for sometime. Then she decided she wanted to take it a little further, a “soup plus” and she decided to hold “The Great Soup Unconference”. An all dayer version if you will, but with very little organising, trusting that the day would come together by itself, thanks to the people that attend.

I can’t often get to the regular Soup meet ups, as I am normally working when they are on. (it’s often on a Sunday, which I work)! So when I saw the Unconference was on a Saturday, I made sure I booked my free ticket.

The event took place at a local alternative school ‘Epicquest’ which lucky enough I live really close to, so Miguel and I wandered down and got there right on time.

As people were arriving, we had a little look around at the stalls, and around the centre, which has a lovely unique vibe. I knew lots of other people there, so there was lots of hugs and hellos, which is always nice 🙂 There were stalls from Essex Feminist Collective, a local Portuguese woman who makes jewellery (no website I’m afraid) and my friend Sara was selling her raw chocolate. She doesn’t have a website for the chocolate (which is amazing- we made sure we got a few bags of her ‘caramac flavour- but they were gone by the end of the day)! but she does a lot of therapies and you can find her here

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After a little while, everyone got called into the hall for things to kick off. Sherry talked about what she envisioned for the day, and then she got some of the people from Epicquest to talk a little about the work they do. They provide a space for people who home educate, who may want to take a break now and again, as they have drop in classes, or for people disillusioned with the traditional education system. The provide traditional lessons like Maths and English, alongside things like meditation and yoga. They also have a recording studio local musicians can use, provide vegetarian meals for students, have a permaculture garden, and host lots of local community events.


Then it was time for what Sherry had called ‘Lightening Talks’- the premise being anyone could get up and talk for five minutes about a project or something they were doing. The first was from a woman who ran a local choir (apologies for the lack of names- I’ve been meaning to blog this sooner, but haven’t been well recently and I didn’t take notes)! and she did her talk in an unique way, instead of just telling us about the group, she got us to sing! We sang a folk song, then she got us to do “rounds” separating us into two groups then into four. It definitely put some of us out of our comfort zone (including me a little)! but it was great, fun way to introduce the group.


Next up was another amazing friend of mine, Adri Ana, talking about her group Inspiring Women Southend so she talked about the group who meet up once a month to share, inspire and create, as well as run the annual EDEN conference. (if you read my blog regularly you will know I attend this group regularly). She then got 10 people from the audience to get up and say what inspires them, and what they want to achieve. At the end she offered all of them a free ticket to next year’s EDEN. Because of all this, this talk was half hour not five minutes! But it was a good talk.


After the talks, it was time for ‘Open Space Conversations’ where people were encouraged to think of something they wanted to discuss with others, write it down on a post it note, that then went on a white board. Those of us that weren’t ‘hosting’ a discussion, could wander to whatever one that took our interest and float to other ones if we weren’t learning or participating. I went to the discussion about aiding literacy, I was the only one who turned up to that talk but we actually spoke more about books and writing in general!


Then there was the break so we could eat delicious soup!


While we were on the break, we had a look at the music room, and I couldn’t resist having a go on the electronic drum kit 🙂 (and the ukulele which I have completely forgotten everything I learnt while I had one- doh!)

When we came back before the presentations, Helen from Essex Feminist Collective mentioned about ‘Supporting Sisters’, a group that help women with no or limited access to sanitary projects in the UK and also in Calais. The EFA are kindly collecting from the Southend/surrounding areas. I’ve offered to take on a bucket for collections at my women’s circle.


Then it was time for the presentations for funding. It was a very difficult choice this time, as all the projects were very worthwhile. First there were Epicquest themselves, who wanted funding to help them set up a kitchen which would help young unemployed or out of education adults. Then was my friend Bernie, who wanted funding for her mental health charity Just Listening to You, a lady that wanted funding to help her set up a breast feeding support group, and a lady who wanted funding to help her with her business creating stars.

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There was a chance for another short tea break afterwards, but sadly as we still had other things to do before I had to have a very early night as I was going to Manchester really early the following day (which is another blog I’ve been waiting to write…) we had to leave soon afterwards but luckily we got to hear who the winner was first, which was the breastfeeding group!


A really lovely day with great community spirit, a chance to connect with new friends and old friends. If you’ve never been to a ‘Soup’, I really recommend you take part! If there isn’t one in your area, why not start one?

4 responses to “The Great Southend Soup Unconference

  1. gozzie662013 says:

    I love this idea and would be thrilled to be part of it. I will not be around until late December but would then be happy to contribute in any way I can thank you Julian for letting me know about this….In January I am intending to set up a community project with Little Free Libraries, something I am passionate about ( I have one in my front garden!) and they are such fun, I would love to do a five minute, or less, talk about it.

    • moonlightwrites says:

      I love that idea 🙂 I can out you in touch with Sherry if it’s something you want to share at her next Soup meet up?

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