At Aberdeen SOUP we hear amazing short talks about some of the truly inspiring initiatives going on in and around Aberdeen. They’re more often then not related to education, health and the community and focus on everything from poo (OK, faecal transplants!) to potatoes, revealing some of the real diversity, talent and initiative on our doorstep.

If you maybe missed one of our events or want a reminder about what you heard about at the event, this is the place for you. We’re keeping a running tally of all Aberdeen Soup talks to date, with the most recent at the top, and we’ll update them after each talk. Please do follow the links to each project’s own homepage, where they’re available, to find out their latest news. And keep an eye out for the next Aberdeen Soup!


Annabel Turner - Cybersafe Scotland

By Clara Maurillon 23/03/2020

“The more work I did, the more it became obvious that there were a lot of children being exploited in Scotland”. This is the alarming observation that Annabel Turner made while working with the International Justice Mission, the largest anti-trafficking NGO in the world. Upon discovering that Scottish children were not sufficiently protected from online abuse, she decided to take matters into her own hands and founded Cybersafe Scotland, a programme that aims to help schools, parents and children in building a higher understanding of the risks of the Internet.

Cybersafe Scotland designs videos to help teachers in delivering safety information that go beyond already existing materials that most children are already familiarised with. However, Annabel observed that it can be difficult for children to identify the line between healthy conversations and inappropriate comments online: “There is a massive gap between what children say they know and what they are doing in practice”, Annabel says.

Annabel recalls a recent case she worked on where two primary school students opened a YouTube channel and someone commented under the video that they should get closer to the camera and show their ankles: “It was the start of a process that was about to go on”, she explains. Annabel believes that by presenting different scenarios that happened locally and debate on how things could have been responded to differently, children could think critically of what they are themselves doing on the internet.

Cybersafe Scotland works in partnership with both universities in the city and also gets help from teachers, Police Scotland and Barnardo’s among others.

The materials have been on pilot since 2017 and are going to be launched in August of this year. schools

Annabel applied for the first soup of 2019 and won. She says that her victory was a big boost of confidence as it gave her the feeling that the project was on the right track. “The experience was amazing; I would have felt even if we hadn’t won that it was worth doing because we had such an amazing response from all of the people there”.

“We couldn’t have done any of it without the help of the community”.

To learn more about Cybersafe Scotland click on the links:

celebrating our previous winners #1

Dusty Macdonald - The Skene Street Project

By Clara Maurillon 09/03/2020

Aberdeen has many beautiful landmarks, vibrant streets and green spaces but some areas have been abandoned and are feared to go into despair. The Skene Street playground, with its aging equipment and dangerous accessibility, was about to face this fate if it hadn’t been for the help of the community. Dusty Macdonald, previous winner of Aberdeen Soup, is part of the Skene Street Project which aims to give another life to the playground in order to create a space where the local community can come together.

Dusty Macdonald works for the Aberdeen Community Council and, not living too far from the Skene Street play area, decided to revive his neighbourhood by revitalising the decaying space. One of the first steps of the project was to build a pathway surrounded by grass to create a green space in this concrete desert. Another early idea was to get benches for the parents to have somewhere to sit while watching their children play. New playground equipment was then built and Dusty says that now kids from Gilcomstoun school regularly spend some time with their families at the playground after school, especially during the sunny days.

A small stage was built in the wider part of the park with the hope of expanding it in order to maybe organise some public events in the future. A 5000 thousand grant from Tesco allowed the construction of a public vegetable garden where grown seeds that have been planted can be harvested by anyone that stops by the park. On top of that, seven apple trees have been planted and even though only five remain today, Dusty jokes that it is not a big problem as only five trees are needed to create an orchard, making the Skene Street Park the first apple orchard in Aberdeen.

The project won Aberdeen Soup in 2018 and the funds helped get some equipment and tools vital for the project. Dusty successfully applied for planning permission to transform the area even more drastically, starting by destroying the existing staircase to create a more accessible path. Some other plans include an outdoor gym, a climbing wall and a bigger seating area for people to just relax or share some lunch.

Here are some pictures of the work done so far:

New playground equipment
Small stage and mural
Playground and apple trees

A quick round up of the projects that presented at Soup #5

1. Winter Care, when people suffer from domestic abuse, they are often vulnerable and can find themselves in poverty. This project looks to support them through the winter months and make sure they are safe, warm and have basic provisions. The project is part of the bigger project time to heal that supports vulnerable survivors of domestic abuse to learn skills that they can use to gain confidence, interact better and gain employment.

2. MISS run by Abi Clarke is a support service for women and their partners who have suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth. With only phone and online services available currently, these group support sessions are the first in the UK. Group support has given the opportunity for women and their partners to talk openly about their experiences when they are ready, breaking the taboo of the subject and provides access to information that is relevant to them.

3. Climate Cafe Series, presented their idea that has started in the second half of this year. The cafe series is a place for people to come, listen, bounce ideas, learn, network and discuss issues relating to topics that affect our environment. The aim is to encourage people to live more sustainable lives, reduce carbon emissions and live in a better environment.

4. Little Bon Cook School is a start-up business from Kirsty Fraser who is keen to promote healthy eating and cooking to all ages. Little Bon aims to educate young people about food and nutrition and provide an experience where both parents and kids can participate in a fun and engaging activity together. The experience will equip young people with key life skills by learning how to prepare and cook healthy food.

Soup#2 – February 2017

CFINE (Community Food Initiatives North East) – Cook at the Nook (Soup#2 Winner)

CFINE believes most of us have a talent at cooking, but that some just haven’t had the opportunity to realise it. The organisation, aimed at those on a budget, set out to help build a culture of food that involves more fresh produce, encourages food diversity and seeks to reduce food waste.

To do this, CFINE set up Cook at the Nook, a community kitchen, at its premises in Poynernook Road. It was completed in late July, 2016, and officially opened in November 2016. Since opening it has been successfully running cooking sessions for anyone on a low budget who needs it, including people who have been relying on food parcels, as well as helping its visitors to learn about kitchen waste management and how good planning can result in no waste.

Cook at the Nook was primarily created to provide space for people to learn how to cook, but it is also a great way to help people build confidence, foster social relationships and meet with people from partner organisations. Involving partner organisations helps people discover services that are available to them, further helping them reduce reliance on emergency food parcels, which in turn will help people move away from food insecurity.

Money raised at Soup is to be used to fund cooking on a budget sessions, to buy produce that can’t be sourced from FareShare. £500 pays for 15-20 sessions, which will benefit up to 280 people, making a real difference to families all over Aberdeen.

Debating schools outreach by University Aberdeen Debater

Engaging in public speaking skills can be a great way to improve confidence and knowledge for young people.

University Aberdeen Debator are a group of university students who volunteer their time and experience in debating to provide workshops around Aberdeen to schools that cannot access debate coaches.

The group focuses on schools with pupils from lower socio-economic backgrounds, who would not otherwise have the benefits of personalised coaching while in school. From their experience, since up a year ago, they’ve already seen how even short-term coaching can bring incredible improvements in pupils’ confidence and personal development.

The group has students committed to help with the program for the next two years. But, they rely on funding to be able to travel to schools and they’re limited to schools in the centre of Aberdeen. Increased funding would allow them to go further.

One Seed Forward

One Seed Forward wants to encourage people in Aberdeen to grow their own potatoes, especially varieties that are local or heritage.

The idea is to initially source seed potatoes from an organic supplier, and then donate them to people who were interested in growing their own vegetables. To make the project self-sustaining, these growers would then pledge to give back two seed potatoes for every one they are given.

Growers could be those with their own gardens or allotments, or people who only have a small space outside where they could grow them in small sacks. One Seed Forward could also involve nursery or childrens’ groups in the project. The group has a Facebook page, where people can form a community sharing when to plant and show progress of their own crops or try to address any problems they are having.

Ultimately, One Seed Forward hopes the initiative could spread into growing other vegetables, increase use of growing space and a sense of community. The first planting is hoped to be in April, with harvest up to August.


University of Aberdeen medical student James McIlroy has taken a leave of absence to work on a project which could literally help save lives.

He formed start-up company EuroBiotix after recognising that NHS doctors that wish to perform a medical treatment called Faecal Microbiota Transplantation (which involves the transfer of faecal material from a healthy donor into a recipient to cure a disease) are faced with a number of difficulties. One difficulty is that because there is no national donor registry, it can be hard to source suitable donors to donate samples for the treatment. A further difficulty is that doctors often have to process the samples themselves, which is time consuming and inconvenient.

EuroBiotix wants to reduce the costs and inconveniences currently associated with providing Faecal Microbiota Transplantation by creating a bank of pre-screened and ready-to-use faecal transplant products that doctors can use in hospitals. This essentially means setting up a blood transfusion equivalent service for faecal material.

The project has already won a number of awards and has built a team of experts and an Independent Scientific and Medical Advisory Board to support its mission. As at February 2017, the company was seeking investment to allow it to set up a laboratory.

Soup#1 – November 2016

Me Too Magazine (winner)

Me Too Magazine was the winner of Soup#1 in Aberdeen. Set up by Phionna McInnes, Me too Magazine is a free quarterly magazine for families of children with disabilities to help share local relevant information and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.

The magazine helps bring together a fragmented community by sharing suitable events and activities so that parents and families can meet and gain peer support and understanding.

The magazine, which is distributed to parents and partner charities, already has 28,500 readership in northeast Scotland, which is a testament to the gap in information and support that Phionna is helping to fill.

However, needs help to keep the magazine being printed and it’s a challenge to write a magazine and fundraise at the same time.

Befriend a Child

Befriend a Child supports children and young people aged of 4 – 16 who are growing up in difficult life circumstances and often turbulent homes.

The charity currently supports more than 300 children and young people in Aberdeen City and Shire annually through the offer of friendship and non-judgemental support with the help of more than 200 volunteers from the community. Befriend a Child also runs holiday playschemes, youth clubs and a mentoring project.

These activities can build confidence and open young people’s their eyes to a new way of life, helping to lay the foundation for a responsible and independent adulthood.

The cost of a befriending relationship is estimated to be £100 per month, money the charity has to raise continuously.

Geology Girl Rocks

Geology Girl Rocks is a one stop shop for all things Planet Earth.

Founded by CEO Joanna Morris, the project’s aim is to teach kids and adults more about the world around them using novel creative and technological approaches, from recipes that teach you about fossils to an app that can bring dinosaurs to life. Geology Girl Rocks call it “Scientist in your Pocket”, based on a web-based platform with plans to extend this into a child-friendly outreach education platform.

Ultimately, Morris wants to build a community of likeminded people that can ask questions and share knowledge in order to provide some inspiration to our future Geoscientists.

Geology Girl Rocks wants funding to help towards upkeep of the website, ingredients for the video recipes and a designer to create cartoons of Earth Science action heroes.

House of Lila

Yoga teacher Laura McCrimmon has a vision to create a community space called House of Lila. In Sanskrit, Lila means “divine play”. “The word divine to me means reconnecting to the best and most authentic part of yourself and play means to experience true joy,” says Laura.

Laura wants to help people enjoy a dose of divine play in a world where stress is all too prevalent. It would be a home for local talent in Aberdeen, to help them get their own ideas off the ground, as well as share their skills with the wider community, be it yoga, meditation, painting, drawing, dancing or eating through workshops or classes.

Initially, House of Lila will work on a barter basis, whereby people who perhaps cannot afford to take a yoga class or art workshop can give their free time to open and clean the space in exchange for free classes.

In the future, House of Lila hopes to provide employment for people who are struggling with getting a job or are unable to work due to the expense or lack of childcare, taking administrative, marketing and reception tasks. House of Lila hoped to use funds raised to support the first quarter rental on a studio space and to help promote the project.