Minister of the Month – Funmi Adewale
Meet our Minister of the Month Funmi Adewale. Funmi has developed into a thoughtful, patient and encouraging mentor and, whether it’s fiction or speech writing, been able to bring out the best in everyone she works with.
Name: Funmi Adewale
Volunteer role: Writing Mentor
Live: nomad at heart, ‘Saaf Londoner’ by nature.
Favourite story and why:
Any story which departs from the mouth of my mother. Not only is she a great storyteller, she’s also an undiscovered actress. She even tells stories from the Bible as if she herself were present at the time.
Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I tend to be an all or nothing person. So at the moment, I’m all about cycling. I learnt to cycle two months ago and haven’t taken a day off since. My primary passions revolve around words and languages; Yoruba, English, Spanish and French. I write short stories on a blog called Tales from Londinium, inspired by Londoners on public transport. My most potent story so far tackles the issues of domestic violence, infidelity, fate and time.
Why did you decide to volunteer with Ministry of Stories?
One of my teacher training tutors kindly recommended Ministry to me. I knew I still wanted to work with young people after leaving teaching, so I got in touch with Ministry and haven’t looked back since.
Were you nervous about anything before starting?
YES. Worried about stepping on toes (and I don’t mean those of the young people). I was worried about how to balance Teacher Funmi with Volunteer Funmi. You’d probably have to ask the other volunteers whether I have found the right balance. I hope I have.
What has been the best experience of volunteering?
Watching the growth of students at the Bridge Academy during their speechwriting sessions. Not only did they gain the ability to read their work out in front of their peers with confidence but they also read out their speeches in front of an invited audience in the Houses of Parliament. Wow. Breathtaking. It reminded me that if you set a young person a challenge, they’ll often rise to it. Low expectations are not conducive to growth.
What has been the most unexpected thing about volunteering?
They say that truth is stranger than fiction. Not for some kids. Sometimes, it’s the other way round and the stories young people come up with break through the boundaries of reality. I never expected to encounter such imagination.
Has volunteering changed anything in your life?
It’s changed the way I will interact with young people. It’s easy to become complacent when you have previous experience of working with young people but the biggest thing I have learnt from volunteering is that just as the body can only do what the body can do, the brain can only do what the brain can do. The growth of young people is not just about the physical but also about the emotional and mental aspects. I now interact with young people with this in mind.
Describe the Ministry of Stories in three words:
Welcoming, lively, octopus.
What would you say to other people thinking of volunteering with the Ministry?