Study proves Nick Hornby’s writing charity Ministry of Stories does foster creativity

Krishnan Guru-Murpthy at the fundraising event

Krishnan Guru-Murpthy at the fundraising event - Credit: Archant

Newsreader Krishnan Guru-Murthy joined TV personalities and authors at a fundraising evening to celebrate five years since Fever Pitch author Nick Hornby co-launched the quirky educational charity Ministry of Stories (MoS).

Nick Hornby at the fifth birthday bash

Nick Hornby at the fifth birthday bash - Credit: Archant

Along with art entrepreneurs Ben Payne and Lucy Macnab, best-selling novelist Hornby opened the world’s first supply store for “monsters” in Hoxton Street on November 19 2010.

The idea was that a fantastical shopfront selling the likes of “fang floss” and “human snot” would lure youngsters living in the disadvantaged area into something rather less fantastical, if no less fun, in the form of literacy lessons, run behind a secret door.

Items sold in the shop would raise funds for the creative writing workshops for eight to 18-year-olds, delivered by the likes of novelists Zadie Smith, Roddy Doyle and Michael Morpurgo along with a host of loyal volunteers.

The aim of the innovative storytelling and writing workshops is to empower young people’s imaginations and to build their confidence, self-respect and communication skills, boosted by publishing their works to ensure their voices and stories are heard.

Nmeso, who has benefited from the mentoring

Nmeso, who has benefited from the mentoring - Credit: Archant

Research from UCL’s Institute of Education now shows the venture has been a huge success.

The three-year study demonstrated powerful evidence that the creativity they expressed through writing was enhanced as a result of the philosophies and ways of working developed by the MoS, and that motivation and communication have also increased in the young attendees.

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“It’s been a great year for our young writers, and the research is an affirmation for those of us who believe in championing the writer in every child” said Lucy Macnab.

Celebrities and supporters including Riz Ahmed, Charlie Higson, Sophie Kinsella and David Nicholls gathered at the Trampery in Old Street to celebrate the fifth birthday last week, where the fundraising event included a special quiz.

Channel 4’s Krishnan Guru-Murthy showed off hidden talents of dexterity under pressure in the round which saw teams racing to stack tubes of glue on top of each other using nothing but a pair of chop sticks.

Hornby handed over the mantle of chairman of the board to Régis Cochefert and they both spoke about the past five years and gave their vision for the next five.

In September, MoS was awarded the Best National Lottery funded Arts project at a star-studded ceremony including John Barrowman and Julian Clary.

Nmeso Okolo is one youngster who has benefited from the workshops.

The 10-year-old wasn’t always convinced by the Ministry of Stories – which he thought ‘was going to be boring’ – but happily, that didn’t turn out to be true.

Along with imagination and writing, Nmeso has gained from the MoS in other ways – he is calmer, more responsible, has been moved up a grade and even been made his school’s head boy.

“Writing club could open your ideas up, a place where anything you want to write or create you can,” he said.

“Writing is better than just texting – the way you write can show people how you feel.”

Nmeso, who was born withtongue-tie, continued: “When I was younger I couldn’t talk properly. When I was about three-years-old, I had to have my tongue cut, and that’s one of the biggest challenges of my life.

“Now when I talk, I don’t feel different, and my voice is the same as everyone else.”