Minister of the Month – Joel Goodman

Posted by theministry on 26th February 2015

This February we’re shining the spotlight on Writing Mentor and Workshop Leader Joel Goodman!

Creative writer, Pokemon player and chocolate lover, Joel supports our Junior Ministers during writing workshops.


Name: Joel Goodman

Volunteer role: Writing Mentor and Workshop Leader

Resident: Barnet

Favourite story & why: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s a lovingly farcical approach to science fiction that sets up ridiculous scenarios and tries to explore them in a very human way. It massively contributed to my sense of humour, but perhaps more importantly, always makes me happy to be wearing my dressing gown.

Tell us a little bit about yourself

Since the age when I was able to watch and appreciate Indiana Jones, I’ve been on an endless hunt to find a bag that resembles the kind he would use, but the rest of my time, I am a devotee to the art that is eating chocolate.

I’m neither afraid to play Pokémon (as an adult!) on the tube, nor to defend ‘Die Hard’ from those who would (falsely) insist it is not a fine Christmas tradition.

Whilst I enjoy reading, I’m consciously aware I do not read enough, although I do try and make up for it a little by dabbling in a bit of creative writing myself.

Why did you decide to volunteer with Ministry of Stories?

I was told that I’d be able to meet the cabinet minister for Story Creation if I did so.

Looking into it further, it also seemed like it would be a great opportunity to find out whether a career in working with children would be something that would be worth exploring – both in whether or not it was something I’d be able to do well and also enjoy.

Were you nervous about anything before starting?

Absolutely, the Ministry is fronted by a monster supplies shop after all! Fortunately, there have been no monster sightings…yet.

Still, I was worried that I wouldn’t make a good mentor, a feeling that lasted several workshops. This was mostly through the belief that I would become utterly flummoxed upon being asked the first question by a child.

What has been the best experience of volunteering?

There has been no more a satisfying workshop than those where I have been leading and the story a group has come up with has been ludicrously brilliant.

It is an utter joy stepping back and acting only when I need do so to move things along and to let the ideas wash over me. This is nothing better than having a group of adults share amused expressions on their faces after hearing a particularly fun idea.

What has been the most unexpected thing about volunteering?

“Sir?” “Sir, sir!” I am not a sir. I barely consider myself a proper grown-up! It has never occurred to me, even when I’m performing as a workshop leader, that I’d be looked up to as some sort of authority figure.

Describe the Ministry of Stories in three words

A creative haven.

What would you say to other people thinking of volunteering with the Ministry?

Hello, lovely person! Ooh, are they new shoes? They look rather good on you. Anyhow, I’ve heard that you were interested in volunteering, hmm? Yes, you should definitely do it. Go on, go to the website and sign up for some training.

No, no-no-no, don’t be silly, you’ll be fine. Dash that, you’ll be great even! It’ll be tons of fun and you’ll get so much satisfaction out of it. You’ll leave every workshop with a smile on your face! Besides, you wouldn’t want to waste a great opportunity to go out and use those new shoes of yours, would you?

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