Quote by Roy T Bennet, The Light in the Heart



For many of us 2020 has seemed a lot like an unrelenting, ever-inclining, and fatigue-inducing climb. All around the world individuals have been faced with crises of health, work, home, economy and heart, and for a year that started with so much optimism and excitement, its unprecedented events sure have caught many of us completely off-guard. Yet, even in the midst of great uncertainty and fear, one organisation in particular has continued to show an incredible fortitude. For those of you who haven’t yet heard about the Soup Kitchen in London, we’d love to share with you just a little bit of insight into why this charity has blown us away in more ways than one, and why for this past World Giving Day, we chose to partner with their incredible team to make a small but significant impact in the lives of those experiencing homelessness in the heart of London.

The Soup Kitchen was started in 1986 as part of the American Church and since opening, it has acted as a safe haven to some of London’s most vulnerable. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the Soup Kitchen would welcome around 80 individuals through their doors (on a busy day) and help them with any needs, on top of food, that they may have. When the world got tossed the unexpected curveball presented by the coronavirus, the Soup Kitchen was hit with its own set of challenges. As London shut down and life pressed pause, the Soup Kitchen worked harder than ever before. 80 guests quickly turned to anything between 140 and 160, and their entire model of operation had to adapt to the new restrictions and guidelines. Amid the many changes included the need to transition to a take-away only service as well as looking at new ways to work alongside their volunteers in the safest way possible. Their ability to pivot within the pandemic has been nothing but incredible and for being one of only two soup kitchens that have remained open, they can be nothing but admired and applauded.

As you may have seen, for this World Giving Day just past, we worked alongside Chef and Comedian extraordinaire, Will Hughes of What Willy Cook, to support the Soup Kitchen and provide them with a tangible sense of relief to help them amid the COVID-19 crisis. Will created a 5-Star worthy Miso Tomato Soup which he cooked alongside the Soup Kitchen’s very own Head Chef, Lauren Everet, on Friday 4th December. While the culinary experts fired away in the kitchen toasting, roasting, splicing and dicing, the rest of the team got to work on creating the meal bags.

Illustration of soup for World Giving Day

To ensure that these meals aren’t just any boring old take-away, each day the Soup Kitchen creates hand-packed meal bags filled with nourishing snacks, tasty treats and enough food to help keep someone full for the rest of their day. With about 140 bags to prep and pack each day, this is no easy feat.

Soup Kitchen meals ready to go out

Soup Kitchen Volunteers

Our London-based team member Alexia worked with the Soup Kitchen’s team to individually pack these bags, filling them up with a variety of donated snacks and preparing them for the fresh cooked food that was being whipped up by the kitchen team.

While Alexia got packing, Will and Lauren got cooking. First up on the menu was a warm and filling porridge. In addition to the restaurant-quality lunches served by the kitchen, they also give their guests breakfast to ensure that they are properly fed and looked after. While the porridge simmered away, Will go to work on preparing the ingredients for his soup. With about 10 trays of tomatoes and onions ready to be roasted and about 12 loaves of bread waiting to be toasted, Will certainly had his hands full! In the meantime, Lauren and her Sous Chef, Anna, began working on the day’s main meal. This would be a hearty beef and mushroom stew enclosed in a freshly baked puff pastry. YUM! And for the vegetarians and vegans, Lauren prepared a delicious black bean version with all the tasty veggie trimmings. 

 What Willy Cook testing his recipe

Fresh cooked mushrooms at The Soup Kitchen

Finely chopped bread at The Soup Kitchen

The Soup Kitchen does a phenomenal job at ensuring that even guests with allergies and specific dietary requirements are looked after. Their attention to detail for each individual is truly remarkable and it is one of the things that makes them stand out so much. At OutsideIn we have always had our heart set on ensuring the individual knows that they matter – especially when society says otherwise. It is the attention to these little details that show a person that they are so valued, and while many of us may not have to think twice about being able to cater for our dietary needs, a lot of the guests at the Soup Kitchen simply don’t have that luxury in their day-to-day. It’s so encouraging to see this charity step in to fill in that gap. 

Packaged meals at The Soup Kitchen

Among the porridge, soup and stews, another tasty treat was being prepared – the cherry on top of every meal as some might say: Dessert! After a very filling meal, the guests would be able to enjoy a freshly baked sticky toffee pudding steeped in a rich and creamy vanilla custard. After all, no meal is complete without dessert, right?

While all the action was happening in the kitchen and packing area, David Johnston, Founder of OutsideIn, spent some time chatting to Alex Brown, Director of the Soup Kitchen. They chatted about how the Soup Kitchen has coped over the last few months amid the lockdown and looked at ways in which OutsideIn and the Soup Kitchen can work together in the future. Both David and Alex share a heart for helping people and both approach the action of doing so with 200% effort. For each of them, it was the human-to-human connection with someone experiencing homelessness that catalysed their deep desire to help the society’s vulnerable outsiders. With such a similar set of core values, the collaboration between OutsideIn and the Soup Kitchen felt like the perfect match. 

OutsideIn x The Soup Kitchen x What Willy Cook

Before we knew it, it was 11:30am which meant it was time to SERVE! For the volunteers at the Soup Kitchen, this is the highlight of the day as it is the time when they can interact with the guests who visit. It is a very humbling and emotional experience to hear the stories that bubble under the surface of each guest’s life. For David, this is what OutsideIn is all about. It is about taking that extra step to get to know someone and allowing their experiences to bring them to life, making them more than just an unfamiliar face but rather a name with a uniquely beautiful story waiting to be told and yearning to be heard.

As we served the guests it was so special to be able to speak to a few of them and hear a bit more about their story. These kinds of conversations really put a lot into perspective, especially during a time where the circumstances around us can invite us to indulge in negativity or a lack of gratitude. To see these individuals, so resilient and so strong, share a smile and a heartfelt, “Thank you,” is unbelievably inspiring. And to know that even in the face of hardship and pain, they are still able to do this is both an encouragement and a challenge. 

The Founder of OutsideIn helping to hand out food

As we slowly began to wrap up the day, each of us couldn’t help but reflect on the calibre of service that the Soup Kitchen commits to each day. Far beyond what it does to feed and care for those who come their way, it also provides an environment that declares, “You are so welcome here.” It is a place where the outside has a way in, a place where the broken feel brave and a place where the vulnerable feel valued. 

More than a kitchen more like a home


If you followed our World Giving Day journey you would have noticed that we dropped a limited-edition collection of collaboration merch. 100% of the profits made from these items went to the Soup Kitchen to help them financially. In total, we raised £410.00 profit that has been donated to the Soup Kitchen and its efforts! On top of that, we also introduced a donation button to our website where customers could donate directly to the charity. While we don’t have the total donation figure just yet, we are SO proud to say that from the OutsideIn team alone, we were able to donate over £350.00! All in all, that means a whopping total of £760.00 was donated from OutsideIn with your support! These will give the Soup Kitchen a much-deserved boost and we are so proud to be able to have raised that in just one week.

And of course, it wouldn’t be OutsideIn without a giving product! As part of our partnership with the Soup Kitchen, we donated 200 of our new Thermal Beanies and 200 pairs of thick Oi Socks. These will be given as part of a Christmas gift to each guest who visits the kitchen for their annual Christmas lunch. 


 Thank You

We are so grateful to each customer’s support in making this campaign a success. We could not have done this without you! 

Another huge thank you to the legendary Will Hughes. Will showed so much kindness and generosity in helping us throughout this collaboration and we are so grateful for all his hard work in making this a memorable day for all.

What Willy Cook

And of course, a thank you and an applause for the Soup Kitchen and the work they do day-in and day-out. We are so inspired by their team, by the efforts and by their mission. It was a real honour to work alongside them and to learn from them. We cannot wait to do it again soon.
So, that’s World Giving Day 2020 all wrapped up! We’re already excited for next year…

P.S. Stay tuned for a special video all about the day coming to you SOON!

By Alexia Demetriades

World Giving Day 2020

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