Got a question about volunteering? Chances are it’s answered here!
How can I help?
We love our volunteers at the Ministry of Stories and Hoxton Street Monster Supplies, and as an ambitious charity and a small team, we rely on them! There are lots of ways you can get involved as a volunteer at the Ministry of Stories. You can join our writing workshops as a writing mentor, illustrator, publisher or by playing the role of the ‘Chief’. If you’re brave enough, you can also serve monsters of every kind at Hoxton Street Monster Supplies.
We’re also on the look-out for professionals looking to provide their skills ‘in kind’. Right now we’re particularly interested in the areas of PR, marketing, fundraising or event management.
I’m not an EU resident, am I eligible to volunteer?
Non EU residents can volunteer if you have the right to work or study in the UK and have a visa that allows you to undertake ‘unpaid work’ or volunteering. If you are unsure on the terms of your Visa you should contact the issuer to clarify. Non-EU residents can download a non EU resident VISA form here and present if at the induction day or at your first session.
English is not my first language, can I still volunteer?
You don’t need speak or write perfect English to be either a Writing Mentor or a Shopkeeper. We recognise and value the skills and experience speaking more than one language can bring to our volunteer team. If you have any concerns, please talk to our Volunteer Coordinator by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 020 7729 4159.
How old do I have to be to volunteer?
If you aged 16 – 17, you can volunteer in workshops as a Writing Mentor or Illustrator. If you are aged 18 and over, you can volunteer in any role within the Ministry.
What is the commitment for new volunteers?
We ask that new volunteers commit to a minimum of six sessions, in the first six months. This can be completed across different workshops and within different roles. Please be aware that our Saturday morning workshops are very popular and often get booked up quickly. We are a registered charity (No. 1138553) so if your employer has a paid volunteer programme, you may be able to use your entitlement to volunteer at the Ministry.
How do I register as a volunteer?
To apply to become a Ministry volunteer, please fill out our volunteer registration form. We will then get in touch with the date of a our next volunteer training session. Before completing the form, please check you are eligible to volunteer with us.
What kind of training is there for volunteers?
We provide full training to all new volunteers. Whatever your role, we make sure you have the knowledge and skills to be get the most out our your time with us. Once you’ve registered, you will be invited to an induction day which will cover:
- the history and mission of the Ministry
- mentoring techniques
- how to get the best out of young writers
- behaviour management and safeguarding
- an introduction to Hoxton Street Monster Supplies.
We also discuss what you would like to get out of volunteering and explore all the roles on offer such as illustrator and bookmaker. Download a copy of our volunteer handbook from our Volunteer Hub.
What does safeguarding involve?
Whereas ‘child protection’ literally means protecting children from abuse and neglect, ‘safeguarding’ focuses on building an environment where the welfare of children and young people is actively promoted. This helps children and young people to achieve their full potential and ensures that they are safe and adequately cared for. Our safeguarding policy is covered in detail during the induction day. You can request a copy of our volunteer policy, which covers the key points by emailing email@example.com or read our full Safeguarding Policy here.
Why do I need to be DBS certified to volunteer at the Ministry of Stories?
DBS checks are in the interest of child safety and in line with our child safeguarding policy which is covered in detail during your induction day. All workshop volunteers must have a current enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring service) certificate in order to volunteer. We can accept certificates issued by other organisations if they are registered online via the DBS Update Service . If you have received a certificate from another organisation, you have up to 30 days from the date of issue to register it. Volunteers who only intend to volunteer in the Hoxton Street Monster Supplies shop do not require a DBS certificate.
I was unable to complete my DBS application at the induction day. When can I come back to finish it?
You can drop into one of our DBS clinics on Mondays 12pm – 1pm or Saturdays 9:30am– 10:30am. Alternatively, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a convenient time. Please ensure you bring your completed DBS form and a valid combination of ID documents to verify your identity, as set out in the DBS Checklist. You can download a DBS continuation sheet and handy hints for completing your DBS application on our new starter resources page.
How long will it take for my DBS application to be processed and how do I track its progress?
You will normally receive your certificate back within 4 – 6 weeks, assuming all is in order. If you registered your application online, you can track its progress on the DBS website or by calling 0870 90 90 811. Please note that only the person named on the form can make enquiries on a DBS application. Once your certificate is issued, it will be sent to your home address. Further information on what DBS is, who it’s for and how long it takes, can be found through this link.
I have a criminal conviction, should I declare when completing my DBS form?
You can find more information on spent convictions and whether you’re required to declare a conviction on the DBS website. If you have a conviction and you’re not sure whether it will affect your eligibility to volunteer, please contact us to arrange a discussion in confidence by emailing email@example.com or calling 020 7729 4159.
Why are references required for me to volunteer?
References are required as part of our safeguarding policy and to make sure you are suitable for the role. Referees must be:
- a friend who has known you for five years or more
- a past or current employer, who has known you for twelve months or more
- an academic reference.
You can raise any concerns about references during the induction day. Blank reference forms will be sent to you following your induction. You can also download reference forms from our resources page.
How will I know when my references have been received?
We will send you an email to let you know once we have received both of your references. You can also check with us by contacting us on 020 7729 4159 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
I am a workshop volunteer, how do I book onto my first workshop?
You can begin volunteering in a workshop once you have received your DBS certificate and we have received your references.
You can check the online calendar to see what workshops and roles are available. Once you have found a session please call 020 7729 4159 or email email@example.com to book. If a session is fully booked it will be marked Full.
If your first session is at the Ministry, you will need to arrive ten minutes early with your DBS certificate and photo ID. If your first session is off-site please call us to arrange a convenient time to have your documents checked. Once you have presented your DBS certificate and photo ID you will be able to book yourself onto future sessions via the calendar. Find out more in our ‘next steps’ guide on our new starter resources page.
I am a shop volunteer, how do I book onto my first shift?
You can begin volunteering regularly at the Hoxton Street Monster Supplies as soon as you have completed a shadow shift and we have received your references. Please call 020 7729 4159 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, to arrange a shadow shift.
How do I book/cancel a session?
To book a session, simply log onto the website and choose the workshop or shop shift you would like to attend via our online calendar.
We understand that sometimes you will need to cancel a session. Please try and give as much notice as possible. If you are unable to attend a session please call us immediately on 020 7729 4159.
When do workshops take place and how long do they normally last?
Most writing workshops take place between 9am – 5pm. We also run a weekly Saturday morning club. Workshops normally last 2 – 3 hours including a half hour briefing and debrief session either side.
What can I volunteer in the shop?
Hoxton Street Monster Supplies is open to customers Thursday – Friday 1pm – 5pm and Saturday 11am – 5pm (a shift will start and end 15-minutes either side of opening times). There are also occasional ‘pop up’ store events, outside of these hours.
What does the volunteer policy cover and how can I obtain a copy?
Our volunteer policy covers everything you need to know about volunteering at the Ministry including safeguarding, standards and our mission as a charity. If you would like a copy of the volunteer policy, please email email@example.com
I’ve got a great idea, or would like to make a comment or suggestion. How do I do this?
That’s fantastic. We’d love to hear it! Please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or mention your idea to any member of the team when you’re next in.
I am unhappy about my volunteer experience. How do I make a complaint?
Volunteers are a very important part of our charity and are key to our supporting our young writers and our local community. We want to ensure that every volunteers has a positive experience while they are with us and we’re always looking to improve. If you have a complaint, then please use this form or email email@example.com. We’re all ears. You can also read our full Complaints Policy here. All other key policies can be found on our policies and procedures page.