Minister of the Month – Steve Chatterton
Meet our Minister of the Month Steve Chatterton. Steve has been a regular mentor of our excellent teenage writers for both our speechwriting and Monster Monologues projects. He’s a warm and passionate mentor, who always gives thoughtful feedback, as well as being a brilliant advocate for all of the MoS’s work.
Name: Steven Chatterton
Volunteer role: Story Mentor
What is your favourite story and why?
Most recently, ‘A Monster Calls’ by Patrick Ness, I love rites-of-passage stories about children having to deal with grown-up stuff. If you take this as a book recommendation though be warned, you will blub. Don’t make the mistake I made and read it on public transport.
Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I grew up on a council estate in the Black Country, a cheery place that was the inspiration for Tolkien’s Mordor (really). As a kid there was no real sense of opportunity but my escape route was always through stories, either books or film. I worked with children for four years in Japan, before moving to London where I’ve mainly worked in film. I’m also a screenwriter and I work for a financial media company. The degree to which I love trifle could be described as ‘insensible.’
Why did you decide to volunteer with Ministry of Stories?
I was hooked the moment my good friend Mark told me about Hoxton Street Monster Supplies. Monsters, storytelling and helping young people engage with their creativity and potential? This is in my DNA, it was a no-brainer, a perfect fit.
Were you nervous about anything before starting?
A little bit, but I did the only thing one can do with nerves – briefly acknowledge them as a symptom of being outside your comfort zone before proceeding as if they weren’t there. You can’t not do something just because it’s a little bit scary (unless it’s, like, wrestling a minotaur. That’s scary for a reason. You shouldn’t wrestle minotaurs without proper training).
What has been the best experience of volunteering?
So many, where to start! For my first big project we worked with a group of teenagers on speechwriting and public speaking. We met every Monday afternoon and really got to know them, their stories and what they felt strongly about. At the end of the process they stood up in the Houses of Parliament and delivered their speeches. I was so proud of them, it was pretty emosh!
What has been the most unexpected thing about volunteering?
The young people we work with never cease to amaze me. It could be the unbridled imagination of a nine year old writing a story about a man firing chickens out his eyes with lasers; or the emotional maturity of a 14 year old talking about the difficulty of peer pressure and girl gangs. It’s a real privilege to work with this next generation coming through.
Has volunteering changed anything in your life?
Honestly, I feel like it’s changed everything. No-one has any time anymore, right? But making the time to put something before myself, knowing that in a tiny way I may be making a fraction of a percentage difference to a young person’s life, just being cool with them, positive, encouraging, helping them find their music and to believe in themselves… it’s a very good practice and discipline to employ in your life.
Describe the Ministry of Stories in three words:
Really flippin’ awesome.
What would you say to other people thinking of volunteering with the Ministry?
If you’re reading this then you’re interested. If you’re interested, then step forward. Don’t find an excuse not to. It can be challenging, intimidating even. You have to be gentle and patient with yourself but you have my own personal promise that you will find it rewarding.