Aylsham Parish Church, in partnership with the school’s Religious Studies Department, created the Soul Space in a marquee on the school field as part of a growing national initiative to provide places for spiritual reflection in schools. The Prayer Space, while being rooted in a broadly Christian perspective, was put together in such a way that it was accessible to students of all faiths and none. The marquee was filled with creative, tactile ‘stations’ which gave the students an opportunity to develop skills of personal reflection and spirituality in a fun, open, safe and inclusive way.
In addition to lesson time for some classes, the space was also open to all students at breaktimes. The Prayer Space has proved to be very popular with 100s of students visiting over the course of the week.
One year 8 student said:
“It is incredible. I’m really enjoying coming here to chill and reflect at lunchtime. Why can’t it be here for more than a week?”
A year 10 student commented:
“I’m not sure about religion but the Soul Space was amazing.”
A year 9 boy told us:
“It’s really relaxing. I left feeling so chilled.”
Helen Jacquet, Head of Religious Studies at Aylsham High school said:
“It has been wonderful to see students from all walks of life responding to the Prayer Space in really positive way. They have had the opportunity to reflect on a wide range of issues from exam stress and self- image to forgiveness and refugees in a safe and engaging environment.
“We have had a steady stream of students from across the years visit including a few repeat customers, and the atmosphere has ranged from lively interest to quiet reflection. The students I have spoken to are keen to have the space again next year and we are very grateful to the Revd Jack and the Revd Andrew from the Parish Church for all that they have done to give us such a special experience this week.”
The Revd Jack Branford, Curate of Aylsham Parish Church said:
“It’s been a fantastic week. The Prayer Space has been filled with a lot of laughter and fun, as well as a great deal of thoughtful contemplation. I think it’s shown that many young people are innately curious about the biggest questions in life. Many young people are interested in spirituality and have a sense that there might be more to life than meets the eye.
“The wonderful thing about the Prayer Space is that it enables Young People to explore these ideas and experiences in a completely open way that can help them develop their own sense of self-worth, identity, meaning and purpose. A rare space for the soul in a young person’s life.”
The Prayer Space has been such a success that the school and church are already planning to host something very similar again next year.