Volunteers’ Week 2020
Today marks the start of Volunteers’ Week 2020 and although we recognise that this year will be like no other because of the coronavirus, there is still much to celebrate. Rob Smith, our director, wants to take this moment to share how he feels about our volunteers at Ministry of Stories.
Almost three months into lockdown and the walls of the Ministry of Stories, usually so wild, unpredictable and brimming with ideas, are still and quiet. We realise that not every one of our volunteers can help us right now, but we know you’re waiting in the wings for when we can be together again.
Because Ministry of Stories wouldn’t even exist without our volunteers. No young people accessing our writing programmes. No writing centre. No Hoxton Street Monster Supplies. Just think how angry the monsters would be.
Ministry of Stories was founded on the support of volunteers, which stands as true today as when the first volunteers picked up their tools to start transforming an old job office in Hackney into the inspirational home for writing that it is today.
As we celebrate Volunteers’ Week 2020, we also mark 10 years of volunteering at Ministry of Stories. And that means a staggering 2,700 volunteers supporting our young people over the last 10 years, collectively giving some 52,000 volunteering hours. And goodness knows how many ideas, characters, plot twists, poems and scripts that has led to. The mind boggles.
Our volunteers really are remarkable. I continue to be blown away by what they do, the time they give, the generosity, the willingness and the care. There is something so special about the community that they create. And it’s all in the name of making better opportunities for our young people, unleashing their ideas and imaginations, and releasing the potential that is so often waiting to be unlocked.
We have an incredible roster of volunteers, and I’m always fascinated to find out about the double lives that are led outside of Ministry of Stories. To the best of my knowledge we only have one roller skating, lycra-clad former west end dancer, but we have no shortage of remarkable designers, publishers, journalists, local business owners, carers, tutors, illustrators, and of course writers.
We even have teachers. I am astonished by our Writing Mentors who teach all week then give up their Saturday morning lie-ins to mentor Ministry of Stories young writers.
It’s humbling to see the persistence and perseverance that comes with volunteering with young people. The importance of being that constant is something that runs so deeply in all of our Writing Mentors. Making time to listen, sticking with our young people on their good days and bad, and giving them the space and support they need.
And of course it’s not just the face to face writing mentors that make up the team of Ministry volunteers. It’s our trustees who so skillfully guide our charity, our Story Mentors who give our writers online support from afar, our Ghostwriters, designers and illustrators who bring the children’s writing to life with such creativity and flare. We couldn’t do what we do without any of you.
So on behalf of all of the team at Ministry of Stories – we wish you a Happy Volunteers’ Week 2020 – and a heartfelt thank you for everything that you do. I hope you enjoy reading the stories of some of our volunteers that we will be sharing this week.