The Ministry of Stories’ story & how to volunteer

The Ministry of Stories is an imaginative space and community that supports and inspires young people to write.

They run innovative storytelling and writing workshops in disadvantaged areas that empower young people’s imaginations and build confidence, self-respect and communication skills. They then provide a publishing platform so their voices and stories are heard.
The Ministry of Stories journey starts when the fearless and inquisitive enter into Hoxton Street Monster Supplies, purveyor of household and fancy goods to every imaginable monster, and seek the secret door that leads to the Ministry.
Once inside, the magic begins and children and young people can get involved in writing activities that range from poetry and prose to play scripts, screenplays, journalism, graphic novels, songwriting, and anything else that their creativity can inspire.
The Ministry of Stories believes in inspiring children and young people to find their voice, and constantly challenges expectations and aspirations, from the moment that the secret door in Hoxton Street Monster supplies is found. A key feature of the way that the Ministry of Stories works is to inspire whole communities to get involved in children’s development – the 500 strong team of volunteers, many from the local community, work together to make this a reality.
Above all else, the Ministry is very clear on one thing – it takes fun seriously.
Inspired by American novelist Dave Eggers’ 826 movement, the Ministry of Stories is part of growing network of international centres and is expanding its own network within the UK. Founded in 2010 by author Nick Hornby, Lucy Macnab and Ben Payne, over the last 5 years has hosted thousands of children in workshops facilitated by volunteers including writers, teachers, local people and artists.
The Ministry of Stories exists to champion the writer in every child, and to do this it must actively fundraise to ensure it can continue its work into the future. Current funders include Arts Council London and a number of other charitable trusts, individuals and sponsors. For a comprehensive list and to learn more about ways to donate, please see our Support Us pages.

Volunteer roles

Could you help us inspire thousands of children? Show them that writing is fun? Could you sell Cubed Earwax and jars of Olde Fashioned Brain Jam?
You can help us in three main ways:
  • As a writing mentor, supporting and encouraging young writers as part of our school programmes and after-school writing clubs
  • As a shopkeeper or online order clerk, helping run Hoxton Street Monster Supplies. It’s London’s oldest supplier of goods for the Living, Dead and Undead
  • By giving skills ‘in kind’ to help with special projects
All sorts of people volunteer at the Ministry of Stories – teachers, parents, writers, artists, students, zombies, people looking for work experience… all right, not zombies. They’re all just as captivated by the magic of the Ministry as the children are.

“Watching the growth of students during their sessions… Wow. Breathtaking. It reminded me that if you set a young person a challenge, they’ll often rise to it.” Funmi, writing mentor 

What does it involve?

  • We need volunteers to complete a one-day induction – we hold these on the last Friday of the month
  • We ask volunteers to complete a minimum of six shifts in the first six months
  • Shift lengths vary according to the role – writing mentor shifts are typically 2-3 hours long and shop shifts are typically 4 hours long
  • Most of our shifts run during the week, in the day-time – we only have very limited shifts available on a Saturday
  • We run clubs and workshops with children aged 8-18 years old – most of these take place at the Ministry but some take place in local schools
  • As a writing mentor you’ll be working supportively with children, encouraging them to develop their own creative ideas
  • As a shopkeeper you’ll be serving customers and engaging them in the work of the Ministry

“Every time I come to volunteer I feel like I’m part of something. It’s an incredible feeling… Plus, it’s just fun!” Adrienne, writing mentor and shopkeeper

Benefits for volunteers

If you volunteer, you will:
  • gain experience of working with children
  • meet new people
  • explore new skills for developing children’s writing (mentors)
  • develop reflective working practices
  • get a DBS check and safeguarding training
  • have the opportunity for further skills and leadership development
  • build confidence and people skills
  • work as part of a supportive team
  • be part of a community
  • get a reference
  • gain unique retail experience (shopkeepers)

It’s also loads of fun. Did we mention the tea and biscuits, and our regular thank you events? Those too.

“It has really helped build my skills… Not only do you get some retail experience, you also get to learn new things and meet new people.” Andre, shopkeeper

Who are our volunteers?

Meet some of our mentors and shopkeepers, featured on the blog.


For days filled with cheer, stories and monsters, magic moustaches and Zombie Fresh Mints volunteer today
We need you, and we know some children who do too.At the Ministry of Stories we value diverse, inclusive environments, and we are happy to discuss any access needs you have, and any reasonable adjustments we can make to make volunteering for us possible.
“It helps me to feel confident when adults help.” Bruce, age 10, writing club member
Images: Anna Maria Munoz