Minister of the Month – Henry Smith
Meet Henry, nominated for Minister of the Month for his role as a volunteer writing mentor for our community labs.
Ever since joining Ministry of Stories in early 2019, Henry has felt ‘at home’ and has started taking on more fun creative projects, and trying out more new things, ‘because if you see so many youngsters putting themselves out there, you think to yourself, ‘why can’t I do that too?”
Name: Henry Smith
Hail from: London
Volunteer role: Writing Mentor, Community Labs
Favourite story and why:
Matilda. Because who among us hasn’t wanted to use psychic powers to get back at mean teachers?
Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I am a nine-year-old in an adult’s body who works at an arts magazine and loves reading, writing, drawing, movies and music.
Why did you decide to volunteer with Ministry of Stories?
I really like helping people, and volunteering was always something that has always appealed to me, but I wanted to find a cause I really believed in. I was a very shy, introverted (and to be honest, little bit weird) child who often had to resort to writing to fully express himself, so encouraging kids like me to embrace their creativity and weirdness was something that felt a very natural fit for me, and it’s felt quite natural doing it too.
Were you nervous about anything before starting?
Although I have younger family members, I didn’t really have much experience working with children before signing up for the Ministry. So I was a bit nervous about engaging with the club members at first, but once I got started, that disappeared pretty quickly. It helps that they’re the coolest kids I’ve come into contact with. Much cooler than I was at that age. Probably cooler than I am now, to be honest.
What has been the best experience of volunteering?
I remember once time during a performance at the end of a club session, where one of the mentees had prepared a rap but was having a bit of stage fright. But the way the other members of his group rallied around him and encouraged him until he was spitting bars all over the place was a really magical thing to observe and be a part of.
What has been the most unexpected thing about volunteering?
For me, something I was a little surprised by how quickly I felt at home – not only with the kids, but with the mentors and the rest of the team too. Everyone was really welcoming and open and lovely, and it almost feels like I’m part a secret society of fellow weirdos.
Has volunteering changed anything in your life?
I’d say it’s made me a lot more confident. Not only confident in myself, but in the things I do as well; I feel like since I’ve started volunteering, I’ve started taking on more fun creative projects, and trying out more new things. Because if you see so many youngsters putting themselves out there, you think to yourself: “why can’t I do that too?”
What would you say to other people who are thinking of volunteering with the Ministry?
DO IT!!! I think like me, a lot of people might have concerns about being around children, for example, but if you’re open, empathetic and encouraging to all these creative, malleable little minds, you’ll be surprised to see how much of a difference you can make. Oh, and it’s super fun.
Describe the Ministry of Stories in three words:
Weird. Wonderful. Fun!