Today we turn 11
We are celebrating another year of awesome writing, fantastic stories and young people who inspire us every day.
It’s been eleven years since the first volunteers stepped into a freshly painted 159 Hoxton Street with a vision to help support the next generation of storytellers.
Since then we’ve had over 11,000 young writers through our doors, all supported by our fantastic writing mentors. Those first writers are now young adults, taking their first steps into the adult world, using their time at the Ministry to build machines, tackle human rights and come back to volunteer with the next generation of Ministry club members.
Rob Smith, Director of Ministry of Stories says; “It’s been a fantastic year with over 1,600 young writers bringing creative projects fizzing, burping and exploding into life! We’re so happy to finally have our young people back in the building and the rooms buzzing with their unstoppable ideas and imaginations again. Despite lots of change and challenges, our young people have continued to produce powerful and playful work that has lifted spirits and challenged views.”
“We’ve also been able to launch a brand new Community Writing Lab for 11-15 year old writers, and have seen our schools programme grow working with an inspired set of new partner schools. We’ve welcomed more children than ever before in our programmes. We are so thankful to our whole community of supporters and volunteers who have helped us get to this point.”
Here’s how our year looked in eleven projects, pieces of writing, events and more:
- After a whole year of online writing, we were very excited to reopen our secret door in Hoxton Street Monster Supplies and welcome back our young writers in person.
- Unexpected Poetry burst onto our local streets, popping-up in cafes, schools, tree-tops and bus stops across Hackney. Written and envisioned by our 8-15 year olds some pieces existed for just minutes while others can still be found today.
- Young people from William Patten School wrote powerful poems demanding change as part of our A Child’s Rights anthology telling the world the change they wanted to see.
- Our fantastic fundraisers cycled, ran and kicked footballs for hundreds of miles across the country to raise money for us. Every penny raised went straight back into projects with our young people and ensures our Writing Labs stay free for everyone to join and take part.
- There was more fantastic writing like this piece by Alex, aged 13:
There’s an unspoken language that ghosts speak. Broken, silent memories shared with looks sent from unseeable eyes to unhearable ears. Broken piano keys playing endless symphonies, beautifully distorted, happily sad, memories waltzing through the air without a care for what anything else will say. It’s the language of our hearts, but it can only be heard by those who left theirs behind. That’s not to say humans don’t have their own; the look in somebody’s eyes, the way their face lights up, the way their smile escapes the grasp they try to put it in when they talk about something they love. Sometimes the most beautiful words are shared in silence. Their language is ancient libraries, setting, rising suns and moons, dusty words and dusty books, years of birthday cakes and valentines cards but the love the ghosts could share never aged.
- We bid farewell to our friend and Chair of the board Régis Cochefert, who on his last day was bestowed the title ‘Diplomatic Attaché For French Optimism, Tickled Imaginings, and Controversial Commas’ by our founder and First Minister Nick Hornby.
- Our fantastical shop Hoxton Street Monster Supplies developed some monstrously good new products including a fiery BBQ set, Salt made from Tears shed while Homeschooling and a range of Seasonal Bogies. In celebration of our birthday the shop is offering 11% off for 11 days. Simply enter the code ELEVEN at the checkout at www.monstersupplies.org
- We started work on Pathfinders, a brand new series of artistic commissions designed to help young people get a taste of what Ministry of Stories is all about, in partnership with Arts Council England. We’re always being surprised and delighted by what our young writers come up with – so we thought we had better give the grown-ups a go. To that end, we’ve asked twelve writers and artists, in six pairs, to collaborate on new ways to reach young people through writing, illustration, and many other artistic forms.
- Our new community writing lab for 11-15 year olds collaborated with BBC History to create scenes for a brand new audio soap opera, set on our very own Hoxton Street. The project was inspired by the 70th anniversary of The Archers, first broadcast on 1 January 1951 and now the world’s longest running drama.
- We restarted our in-person volunteer inductions, which are now bigger and with even more tea and biscuits! Our volunteers are the lifeblood of the Ministry, you can find out more about what they do and how to join us here. Our next induction will run in January, if you’re looking for a fun, meaningful new year’s resolution.
- We’re looking to the future with our newest project Time Traveller’s Guide to Hoxton. And if you’re looking to dabble in some time travel, here’s some advice from year 6 Students at De Beauvoir Primary School to keep you going until then.
How to travel to the past to visit the ancient Mayan Civilisation:
Read a book
Ask somebody the way
Go to our beds and dream
Get on board the imagination train
Hail down an Uber
Enter the military time machine
Climb up the steps of a towering temple
Get taken away by a time tornado
Slide down a rainbow
Use the Type-41 Tardis
Fall into a well of the Gods.
Help us make our 12th year just as special, keeping our writing programmes free for our young people.