Children’s Republic of Shoreditch
In 2012, children from the Ministry of Stories declared Shoreditch an independent state-within-a-state to be run by young people, complete with a constitution, manifesto and national anthem. Every aspect of the Republic was designed by children, and was the culmination of a year of hard work and creativity.
Official Letter Writers from the Ministry of Stories sent this letter to their Republic…
‘Dear Citizen! We have made a new country called The Children’s Republic of Shoreditch. It is run by children and it has a postal service, a spy network and an embassy. We have been working on it for months now. We are making this country because we believe that children can be free and everyone is allowed to have fun. Please don’t think we are just a bunch of kids mucking around, we are serious.’
Children from the Ministry of Stories designed their own embassy from which they ran the Republic’s affairs.
A declaration of independence
Affairs of state
The Hoxton Street embassy was open for two months during which time members of the public could visit and:
- apply for citizenship and attain an official passport after passing through strict immigration control
- learn about the laws and customs that were created by the Republic’s Civil Service
- experience the Postal Service where letters were delivered by helium balloon (the service also delivers invisible objects)
- request responses from the Children’s Advice Bureau, where one can sit and chat to receive confidential advice by writing or phone
- visit the Museum of Childhood Treasures, where pictures can be drawn from a machine and everyone can share their favourite childhood toy
- take an interactive tour of the Republic specially designed by the Republic’s spy network, SANT (Secret Agents Never Tell)
Children corresponded with prominent people in the British political establishment, including David Cameron, Boris Johnson and the Queen, seeking to establish strong relations.
Writers in residence
The embassy also hosted workshops by writers-in-residence including Nick Hornby; children’s authors Andy Stanton, Justin Somper and Sufiya Ahmed; poet and artist Laura Dockrill; writer Joe Dunthorne, award-winning author, Meg Rosoff; and first-time novelist Ross Montgomery.
Arts and cultural initiatives
Young writers built an impressive fleet of poetry cars to ferry themselves around Shoreditch as its Poet Laureates, while it’s young mythologists wrote a myth to explain the perplexing problem of Why Adults Are So Boring (and therefore why setting up a Children’s Republic was the right idea in the first place…)
The project finished with a closing ceremony at which we released on balloons miniature letters written for the postal service so the words and the spirit of the Children’s Republic could be spread far and wide.
(If you receive a letter, please let us know.)
Children’s Republic in the news
Behind the scenes
The idea for the Children’s Republic came about through the Ministry’s work with children in 2011-12, encouraging them to write, talk and think about how life would be different for them if they were in charge, and what they would like to change.
The embassy was a place where children’s imaginations were physically realised and offered them the chance to interact with the creative decisions that they had taken through the conceptual stages of the project.
Co-founder of the Ministry of Stories, Nick Hornby said:
‘The Ministry of Stories has always aimed to challenge the traditional ways that children interact with education. The Children’s Republic of Shoreditch aims to give young writers further opportunities to explore questions about their identity and locality: what’s it like to be who they are in the place that they live and what might they like to change to make their life better?
It also gives the community’s adults an opportunity to better understand the young people around them. And, since the project is open to the public, the Children’s Republic of Shoreditch offers a rare opportunity for visitors to experience and celebrate what children’s imaginations can create.’