Penguin Random House UK is marking National Writing Day by celebrating the end of its successful three year partnership with Ministry of Stories. National Writing Day is an annual celebration of writing designed to inspire people across the UK to get writing.
In 2016 Penguin Random House launched its Creative Responsibility mission: to help close the creativity gap. Alongside setting a number of ambitious goals to 2020 – in the four priority areas of Reading, Community, Inclusion and Sustainability – Penguin Random House kicked off a three year partnership with writing and mentoring charity Ministry of Stories.
Throughout the past three years, the publisher has been supporting the charity’s efforts to reach new communities through both funding and expertise, as well as inspiring and mobilising its colleagues to fundraise and give their time as volunteers. Through the support of Penguin Random House, Ministry of Stories has engaged over 2,000 young people who face disadvantages in writing activities that transform how they see themselves, and how their community sees them.
Penguin Random House and Ministry of Stories have collaborated on two flagship projects as part of the partnership. The two flagship projects enabled a creative collaboration between children, illustrators, designers, editors, and Penguin Random House; aiming to captivate the imagination of the children and help them to realise their creative potential. As part of this collaboration, Penguin Random House colleagues visited the Ministry of Stories’ writing clubs to talk about their jobs in picture book and audiobook publishing.
- In July 2017, together they published 17 unique picture books written by children and brought to life by volunteer illustrators. Copies of the picture books were given to local school libraries and the Shoreditch Library in East London and are available to read here.
In May 2018, together they launched their first ever audio collection of 35 short stories, which were written and recorded by children. The collection of audio short stories was published as a real audiobook CD, with Ministry of Stories also releasing the stories on their podcast, which is available on iTunes.
Elena Favilli, co-author of Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls published by Penguin Press imprint Particular Books, also visited the Ministry of Stories for a special one-off workshop with children from Year 5 at St John the Baptist Primary School in Hackney in December 2017. The workshop was filmed by Channel 4 News and broadcast on the evening news programme. As a result, the charity has developed a new workshop for schools inspired by Rebel Girls using materials provided by Penguin Random House, with each participating school receiving a free copy of the bestselling book.
44 Penguin Random House colleagues have trained as writing mentors, supporting and encouraging young writers as part of the Ministry of Stories’ writing clubs and programmes. Colleagues have also volunteered at Hoxton Street’s Monster Suppliers, the shop that donates all profits to the Ministry of Stories, fulfilling online orders and packaging their hallmark product Tinned Fear. In total, Penguin Random House colleagues have volunteered 1,200 hours for the Ministry of Stories.
During the partnership Penguin Random House has raised over £190,000 for the Ministry of Stories. Every May for the past three years hundreds of colleagues wearing orange t-shirts have taken to the streets of London for the afternoon and collectively walked over 10,370 miles in the publisher’s annual charity fundraising tradition The Walk. 60 colleagues have taken on challenge events including Tough Mudder, London Marathon, Ealing Half Marathon, Welsh 3000s, Three Peaks, London to Windsor cycle and skydiving. Other fundraising initiatives include book sales, raffles, carol concerts, a quiz night and a film screening at Waterstones Tottenham Court Road, bake sales, and a wine & cheese tasting.
Tom Weldon, CEO of Penguin Random House UK, said: “We are very proud to have supported Ministry of Stories over the past three years and all the fantastic work it is doing to encourage creativity amongst children and young people in Hackney. For us this was never just about providing funding, but also sharing our skills, passion for writing and author connections to help Ministry of Stories make even more of an impact in these young people’s lives. I know how rewarding, inspiring and enjoyable colleagues from across the business have found our partnership.”
Nick Hornby, Co-Founder of Ministry of Stories and Penguin Random House author, said: “Penguin Random House UK and the Ministry of Stories are a fantastic match, and the partnership has been enormously beneficial. We’re so proud of the two flagship projects that have come out of the collaboration. The picture books and audio stories mean that the Ministry’s young writers can find their work in local libraries and schools and be heard across the country. It has always been the Ministry’s mission to show young people what their work looks like, and how inspiring it can be, when produced at the highest professional level, and with the fantastic backing of Penguin Random House we have been able to do this."
Lucy Macnab, Co-Founder and Director of Ministry of Stories, said: “This was unlike any other corporate charity partnership. The strong sense of creative responsibility and the belief in the power of children's words has seen over 2,000 children begin their journey as writers. From day one, Penguin Random House UK staff collaborated with children to help tell their stories in their own words, from picture books to podcasts, also collaborating on learning resources, so other children can author these kinds of stories in the future. These volunteers have become a vital part of a community that cares, by giving individual support to children by using their professional skills. We hope it inspires others from the creative industries to consider volunteering and fundraising. We are incredibly grateful for all that this partnership has achieved for our young writers in helping them to unleash their imagination and realise their potential.”
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