Minister of the Month – Veena Saunder
This Volunteers’ Week, we are proud to introduce one of our Ministers of the Month, Veena.
Veena is one of our young volunteers who since 2019 has been juggling life as a writing mentor for our schools programme, while studying History at Queen Mary University of London.
In her own words, Veena explains how she volunteers to give back to the community which helped her to discover her own passion for writing.
Name: Veena Saunder
Hail from: South-West London
Volunteer role: Writing Mentor, Schools Programme
Favourite story and why:
The White Queen by Philippa Gregory is my all-time favourite book that allows the reader to get swept up in the elite and scandalous monarchy of fifteenth century England. As a historian I find the historical fantasy genre particularly engaging as I can relate my learned knowledge to the book and understand the context of the story amongst the facts and dramatized telling of events. When I read a book, I want to escape to a different time and place where I can get involved in the narrative of the story and this book definitely allows that experience.
Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I am a third-year history student at Queen Mary’s University of London. My favourite historical subject is violence in the early modern era because of all the gory and gritty events that occurred in England! Although I study in east London, I do live a bit further away and in the one-and-a-half-hour commute to university I tend to occupy myself with a good book.
Why did you decide to volunteer with Ministry of Stories?
It was not too long ago when I also struggled with my writing and attended similar clubs like the Ministry of Stories to improve my literacy and creative work. These initiatives piqued my interest in writing as a form of study and enjoyment. I decided to volunteer with this organisation to give back to the community that helped me discover my passion and work with students who I relate to and understand.
Were you nervous about anything before starting?
Of course I was nervous! I had never worked with children previously and I wasn’t sure how they were going to behave or work with me. But I was supported by four other very capable volunteers who showed me the ropes and helped me along my first couple of weeks. This helped me acclimatise to the schedule and get more involved in the Ministry.
What has been the best experience of volunteering?
Getting to work with children is the best part of the job. Each week I never know what I’m going to expect from the kids. Reading their creative pieces where their writing skills improve each time has been a hugely rewarding experience. Seeing their unique ideas infused into their work makes it a real pleasure to be involved in even a fraction of their learning experience.
What has been the most unexpected thing about volunteering?
Probably how easy it is to work with the kids. Every session I feel nervous about starting the shift but as soon as I enter the classroom, my anxieties are alleviated as the students are so energetic and eager, keeping the discussions and written work exciting and lively.
Has volunteering changed anything in your life?
I have stopped looking at writing as a task that has to be completed and now find myself seeing it as a relaxing and fun exercise. As a history student most of the work I submit are essays and aside from this work I found little time to write for enjoyment. However, the Ministry of Stories has helped me find greater satisfaction in writing as a pastime and I know that I am going to continue exploring my creative side outside my academics.
What would you say to other people who are thinking of volunteering with the Ministry?
Join the Ministry family! This unique opportunity allows you to work with children with the full support of your co-workers where you are learning new skills on the job through communicating with staff and engaging with the students. Volunteering with the Ministry is an extremely fulfilling job and this is reflected on your CV, showing any prospective employer that you can be an asset to their team.
Describe the Ministry of Stories in three words:
Inventive ideas factory!