Volunteers – the difference you make
As #VolunteersWeek2020 draws to a close, we wanted to share the perspectives of our young writers, staff and volunteers on the difference you make to Ministry of Stories as one of our volunteers.
From the mouths of our young writers
“I think that the mentors are kind and helpful. They respect and like our ideas even if we think they are not good. They always have fresh and new ideas to help me improve my work.” – Sofia, aged 11, Thursday writing lab
“The mentors are always very supportive and encouraging. They give me brilliant ideas for fun stories that are very different. It’s great that I can go online and ask for feedback to help me to build my story.” – Sabine, aged 10, Thursday lab, now regularly using our Story Engine creative writing platform
“Thank you for making it possible to keep in touch through zoom, for giving us activities in these times of confinement. Thanks a lot to all the volunteers and I really enjoyed it” – Matthew, age 9, Thursday writing lab
“They were very helpful and worked really hard on me whenever I did not know what to write. They were also very fun.” – Biko, age 9, Thursday writing lab
Thanks from our staff and freelancers
“Writing mentors: thank you for your energy, your calm, your sensitivity, your fun, your scribing, your snack-buying, your willingness to learn new things and to support each of our young writers in the way they need. Thank you for adapting to support our young writers in lockdown: mentoring via zoom, writing feedback on poems and stories on The Story Engine and beyond, writing address labels, editing videos… being there” – Miriam, writing programme leader, schools
“Over my years at Ministry of Stories I’ve worked with literally hundreds of volunteers, from shopkeepers in Monster Supplies and mentors in our workshops, to photographers, props-makers, copywriters, and makers of Tins of Fear. Ministry volunteers are THE BEST! Positive, generous, fun, caring, smart — they bring so much directly or indirectly to the children – they’re really what makes Ministry of Stories the brilliant place it is.” – Emily, trading manager, Hoxton Street Monster Supplies
“Skilled individuals who volunteer their time and expertise to help young writers are invaluable. Volunteers are the backbone of many of our creative projects.” – Gem, writing facilitator, comedy sketch writing
“In my short time facilitating storymaking workshops with Ministry of Stories, I’ve already experienced just how valuable the volunteer mentors are to the writing programmes. Their enthusiasm and playful energy contributes greatly to the atmosphere of excitement that brings the workshops to life, and the support they offer facilitators undoubtedly keeps things running without a hitch! The encouragement young writers gain from their one-to-one interactions with mentors is indispensable, and I’ve really felt how the workshops are enriched by the wealth of expertise that mentors bring to the group. Thank you mentors, you’re amazing!” – Mads, writing facilitator, storymaking workshops
And finally, how do volunteers feel about their experience?
Dorothy (pictured above as the Were Koala) has been volunteering with us since 2017. She explains, “seeing the young writers grow in confidence and hearing them share their work is so heartwarming. They inspire me with their wild imaginations and it’s an honour to help them along on their creative journey.”
We also asked our volunteers, what’s been the most unexpected thing about volunteering?
“The people I have met. Everyone is so different, such a wide range of experiences and life stories, all of which make volunteering with the Ministry a rich and textured experience” – Judith, mentor and admin volunteer
“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.” – Henry, this month’s Minister of the Month
“[I’ve been surprised] how very varied and interesting all the other volunteers are.” – Steve, mentor (and rumours have it, a close acquaintance of The Chief)
“Weirdly enough, meeting so many amazing people and making friends. Who would have thought! Oh, and also the fulfilment you get by knowing that you are doing something useful.” – Lina, shopkeeper, Hoxton Street Monster Supplies
And what has been the best experience of volunteering?
“The people that I’ve met, for sure […] The Ministry team and other volunteers – there is nowhere else that feels as inclusive and friendly as the Ministry, where it is totally okay – and encouraged – that everyone can be their own bonkers, brilliant selves.” – Alice, mentor
“The variety of amazing people I’ve met at the Ministry has been humbling. Whether we’ve been making the magic happen in workshops, keeping each other company in the shop, letting our hair down at socials or helping each other to help our young writers (aka Junior Ministers), the time I’ve spent with other volunteers has made me who I am.” – Charlotte, this month’s Minister of the Month
It’s remarkable to also see the difference you make to each other, let alone to our young writers. So a final huge thanks from all of us at the Ministry of Stories to the 240 individuals who have so generously given almost 5,000 hours of their time in the last year to support our young writers, mini-human customers, our charity and each other.
We know our volunteers aren’t just important during Volunteers Week, they are vital all year round! We wouldn’t be us, without you. Thank you for helping us to thrive.