• What's our story?

    One of us was born in the UK, the other in the US. As children, we both loved stories and writing. They became integral to how we both understood the world, and then fundamental to our work as grown-ups.

    Believing in their importance in the development of young people led us to both run charities that used the power of stories and the imagination to transform lives – which is how we met. Knowing this shared experience and unique perspective could be of use to adults too inspired us to set up B&G.

    Between us, we have over 50 years of professional experience in the performing arts, writing and literature as well as the education, youth and voluntary sectors in the US and UK. We’ve both founded start-ups and led organisations and we know what it takes to get an idea off the ground and, then, to sustain and scale it.

    Based in London and Edinburgh, we’re both fundraisers, coaches, trainers and facilitators and now want to use these skills in the service of others. We want to build a company that brings creativity and leadership closer together, builds more fruitful partnerships between the corporate and charity sectors and works across the UK and internationally.

    We believe that at the heart of every great idea or organisation is a good story. Our job is to bring yours to life.

    What’s our story intro text

Ben Payne

Ben wrote his first story when he was 7 as a birthday present for his Dad. It was called “Both, the Explational Dog”. When his Dad, in return, had it printed up as 50 books for Ben’s own birthday, it was a gift that went on to inspire a lifelong love of writing and storytelling.

A successful career across the performing arts and literature as a theatre writer, director, producer and artistic facilitator followed. In 2010 he co-founded the Ministry of Stories (MoS) with Lucy Macnab and the writer Nick Hornby. This writing centre for children lurks behind Hoxton Street Monster Supplies, the only shop in the UK – and quite possibly the world – to cater to the everyday needs of every imaginable kind of monster.

MoS has now worked with over 10,000 children in east London, trained many thousands of volunteers to be the children’s writing mentors, and has replicated across the UK.  Building this business and charity has been the most rewarding task of Ben’s career so far. Along the way, he got to help create projects where young people launched an album of their own songs, delivered speeches in the Houses of Parliament, and invented and ran an independent country, all through their own writing.

Before this, he was Literary Manager and Associate Director at Birmingham REP Theatre where he was responsible for its new play development and programming. He continues to work regularly as a writer, consultant and workshop leader in theatre and dance. He is a Fellow of the Clore Cultural Leadership Programme and a graduate of Stanford University’s Executive Programme for Non-Profit Leaders.

Combining experience as a leader, writer, trainer, and coach, he is looking forward to using these skills in the service of others through his partnership with Gerald.

Gerald Richards

Gerald grew up writing stories, collecting comic books, and watching science fiction on the television. It’s his love of storytelling and belief that everyone has a story to tell that led him to work in development and with young people.

Gerald has more than twenty years of management and development experience with local and national US non-profit organisations. He is a respected leader, coach, trainer and sought-after speaker on topics of youth development, writing, creativity, education access, and charity leadership and management. Gerald was the CEO of 826 National, a network of eight writing and afterschool tutoring centres in the US, from 2010-2017.

He is now based in the UK as CEO of the Super Power Agency, a non-profit focused on youth writing and creativity based in Edinburgh, where he is using his love of writing and non-profit management expertise to grow the organisation.

In 2016, Gerald was awarded the Murdoch/News Corp Community Hero Award and is a recent graduate of the Pahara-Aspen Institute Education Fellowship.

He has leadership certificates from the Executive Education programs of Harvard Business School, Babson College, and Rockwood Leadership Institute. Gerald is currently on the board of the Academy of American Poets and has been on the board of several non-profit organisations including My Path, Thousand Currents and Newbury College.

Gerald is excited to partner with Ben and use his varied skills in writing, leadership development, coaching, management, board governance, and development to support organisational excellence and sustainability.

I attended Ben and Gerald’s workshop, ‘Your Story Starts Here’, and I couldn’t recommend it more highly. This workshop offered a safe, creative and supportive space to explore and develop the story of my work.

– Amy Smythe, Founder & Chief Storyteller, The Worry Wizard

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