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Name: André Cole

Role: Volunteer shopkeeper at Hoxton Street Monster Supplies

Resident: Hackney

Favourite product: Share More Air CD


Tell us a little bit about yourself

I am a volunteer shop keeper at the Hoxton Street Monster Supplies. When I’m not here I make and sell cakes with my company, Little Ocean Cupcakes. I also play tennis and write poetry.

Why did you decide to volunteer?

About two years ago I was actively seeking employment but didn’t have much retail experience, so decided to go to the Hackney Volunteer Centre. They had a whole list of opportunities but I picked the Ministry of Stories because it sounded a bit weird and I was interested to find out more.

When I discovered it was a charity that helped young people to be creative and there were opportunities to work in the shop, I was keen to sign up.

Were you nervous about anything before starting?

I wasn’t really nervous but it was different to how I imagined. I thought the Hoxton Street Monster Store might be a gift shop or like fancy dress, selling witches hats and costumes. It was quite different when I came to see it. 

What has been the best experience of volunteering?

I like when someone new comes into the shop and I get to explain what it’s all about. I really like it when they seem puzzled or worried and ‘say what’s that?’ pointing at some Cubed Earwax or Tinned Fear. I can then talk them through all the products and explain how they support the Ministry of Stories. It has really helped me build my skills, talking with customers.

Describe the Ministry of Stories in three words

Interesting, intriguing and quirky.

What would you say to other people thinking of volunteering with the Ministry?

Beware! No, only joking. I would definitely encourage it. Not only do you get some retail experience, you also get to learn new things and met different people. It’s also good fun.


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