Grimm & Co

I can't believe it's been a month since my last day at Grimm & Co. As part of my Masters, I did a 100 hour work placement with them, though I ended up staying longer and even now that I've left Sheffield I'll be volunteering with them whenever I can. In the centre of Rotherham, Grimm & Co is an educational children's charity disguised as a magical apothecary, and it is unlike anywhere I've ever been before. 

Upon entering the enchanting shop, you will be welcomed by the wonderful shop elves and introduced to the fantastical items that are for sale there. Wands, fairy dust and giant belly button cleaners are just a few of the treats on offer. You will learn about Graham Grimm, who founded Grimm & Co in 1148 (just before lunch), and his grumpy sister Griselda. The shop elves will no doubt encourage you to step on the magicometer to find out what magical creature you are, and you might be disappointed to find out that only certain special people are invited to slide down the beanstalk.

Don't worry though! If you are one of the children who is lucky enough to attend a workshop at Grimm & Co, you'll be able to travel down the beanstalk before you leave. You see, at the heart of everything, Grimm & Co is an educational charity that was set up to improve the literacy levels of children in Rotherham. To achieve this, they run story-writing workshops throughout the week for schools, as well as lots of other workshops at weekends and after school for anyone aged 7 to 18. There are always activities going on and developing a child's imagination, as well as their literacy skills, is the core of it all. It is the lucky children who attend these workshops that get to go behind the apothecary's secret door and let their imaginations run free. 

As well as being a general volunteer, I was a story-writing mentor at Grimm & Co. This meant that I got to help out with lots of the school workshops, where children worked in groups to write different parts of a story, before putting all their ideas together. It was such a joy to be part of something that the children found so enjoyable and it was brilliant to work with small groups of children at a time, rather than with the class as a whole. It gives each child the opportunity to put their ideas forward and have their voice heard, which is difficult when one teacher is leading 30 children. At Grimm & Co, the constraints of the classroom are left behind and children are given free reign when creating their stories, so they can be as creative as they like.

At the end of each story-writing workshop, every child in the class gets to take home a published book containing the story they wrote together, and the individual ending that they each wrote alone. Children who claimed to hate English, hate reading, hate writing, leave Grimm & Co with smiles on their faces as they proudly clutch a book with their name on it. A lot of the children who attend the school workshops return to eagerly sign up for out-of-school activities and bring their parents to the apothecary to show them how magical it is.

As well as helping with the story-writing workshops, while I was at Grimm & Co I ran activities in the Easter holidays and helped at lots of different events. A trip to Grimm & Co would make a wonderful day out, whether you have children or not, and there is always something exciting happening. One of my favourite parts of the apothecary is the Forgotten Library, which people are invited to donate their unwanted books to. Children who visit Grimm & Co are always encouraged to take a book with them from the library, for free, and seeing the excitement on their faces is priceless. Something as simple as a book is an incredible gift, particularly to children who may not have many books of their own at home.

If you are ever around Sheffield or Rotherham, you absolutely must make a visit to Grimm & Co. And if you live nearby, I definitely recommend taking your children to the workshops, or volunteering yourself. There is an atmosphere in a voluntary workplace that you just don't find in a paid job. The fact that everyone is there out of choice, because they want to do good and give up their time to help others, is truly amazing.

1 comment

  1. We cannot thank you enough for all the work that you did for us. Wish you were here!