Volunteering always seems like a good idea in principle, but finding the right place to do it – the place that matches up with my attributes and interests and has schedules – has not proved easy, historically. Then I found the Ministry of Stories.

Inspired by the 826 LA writing Centre, the Ministry was set up a couple of years ago and is an incredible success: they have tonnes of programming, a great team of volunteers, and a strong presence in the neighbourhood, all with a small but dedicated group of core staff.

For me as a volunteer, the combination of imaginative storytelling, working with young people, the maintenance of an illusory super-secret hierarchy (complete with intimidating unseen boss The Chief, who commissions all the stories), and the chance to spend time with other story lovers was too appealing not to get involved. So I did. And I’m loving it.

The official Ministry website explains “The Ministry of Stories is a creative writing and mentoring centre for young people in east London. We use storytelling to inspire young people aged 8-18, in the belief that writing unleashes their imaginations and builds confidence, self-respect and communication.” That’s true. I mean, I’m pretty sure it’s true for the kids, from what I’ve seen.

And it’s definitely true for the volunteers.

I can’t give away the actual location, but let’s just say if you stumble upon The Hoxton Street Monster Supplies shop, you’re very very close.