Soup starter serves stability

Edinburgh students working with homeless students
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  • Chris Marshall, 20, formerly homeless, stands with another Slurp team member. Students at Edinburgh University in Scotland formed Slurp to help rough sleepers, hidden homeless.
    Chris Marshall, 20, formerly homeless, stands with another Slurp team member. Students at Edinburgh University in Scotland formed Slurp to help rough sleepers, hidden homeless.
  • Edinburgh, Scotland —Across Europe, youth homelessness is on the rise. As well as those sleeping rough, young people without permanent housing bed down on friends’ floors and armchairs, when the only other alternative is living on the streets.

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    “After the breakdown of my family and mental health issues, I was homeless and living through hell,” said Chris Marshall, 20. “I existed on a few hours’ sleep every night and didn’t know when I’d eat next. Slurp’s support has given me the confidence to get back to my studies and a reason to get up every morning,” Marshall, who is now a Slurp team member, said.

    Students at Edinburgh University in Scotland formed Slurp to help rough sleepers. The organization, backed by Ford, aims to get rough sleepers and hidden homeless, those without enough money for permanent housing but enough resources to stay out of shelters or on the street, back into paid employment and housing. Working alongside students, beneficiaries prepare home-made soup then sell it on campus, with profits paying for training opportunities and further education. They also receive an allowance, free lunch and a reference for prospective employers.

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    “If a young, homeless person feels they have no future, it’s great to know we can make a difference by teaching enterprise skills and allowing them to get back into a work routine,” Camilla Nytun, a Slurp team leader, said. “We’re changing lives, one soup at a time.”

    Slurp was among the winners of the 2017 Ford College Community Challenge and a runner up in Ford UK Innovation Challenge, educational programs from Ford Motor Company Fund that provide grants to student-lead projects focused on building sustainable communities. Part of their £10,000 grant was invested in cargo bikes, allowing the Slurp team to move their business to different locations across campus and drive sales of their healthy soups.

    “For many, the frightening prospect of living on the streets is real, Debbie Chennells, manager, Ford Fund, Ford of Europe, said. “I’m proud to say that, thanks to the Slurp initiative and the fantastic work they do, disadvantaged young people like Chris now have a chance to carry on with studies, start work and find a place they can call home.”

  • Slurp soup vending bicycle trailer.