An interview with Suzanne at Off The Fence in Brighton & Hove

19th January 2023

Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us what you’ve been up to and answering some of our most asked questions, so first up,

Q: How long have you been doing prayer spaces in schools and what type of schools do you go into?

Our first Prayer Space was back in March 2013. We are based in Hove and focus on going into Brighton & Hove schools. We do both Primary and Secondary Prayer Spaces, and have also done a few exam Prayer Spaces for GCSE and A-level students. Prayer Spaces is an important event in our year plan and schools are often keen to get their annual Prayer Space week in the diary.

Q: How often do you go into schools, what’s the response and engagement like from pupils?

This year we are offering a Prayer Space Week to a local school each half term. We focus these bookings on core schools we have regular contact with. We return to these schools each year and often students and staff are excited to see us come back with fresh new activities.

Q: How do you go about choosing which prayer activities to put in your prayer spaces?

We like to stick to a “Thank You, Sorry, Please, World, Myself, Other” framework, choosing activities that help students think about each of these key themes. During the summer holidays we draw up a plan of activities we will use for the coming year and offer this as a package to our regular schools. Schools that we can’t physically get to can also request the package to run in their school with remote support from a member of our team.

Q: Do you have a favourite or most used prayer activity? Why is it your favourite? (or why do you think it works so well with pupils?) 

We always take the Sorry Shredder to Prayer Space. There have been times in the past that we have done something different for the Sorry activity but the children (and staff) will ask “where is the shredder?” or “did you bring the shredder this time?!” The shredder is a firm favourite. They like the novelty of being allowed to use a shredder, but often comment that it feels good to write down their sorrys or their worries and then get rid of them.

Q: Why do you think Prayer Spaces in Schools is so valuable and important?

It is such a great opportunity to encourage students to reflect on key themes of life that make us feel sad or jump for joy and everything in between. Prayer Space activities encourage participants to think big thoughts in a safe environment with adults who are there to support and listen. Children will often comment that it is good to talk to God about their feelings or that it is good to know God loves them and always listens.

Q: Do you have a favourite memory in a prayer space in a school you’re happy to share with us?

There is one time I had a small group of Year 2 girls. They were lovely, they engaged with all the activities we did, and each shared their thoughts and feelings. They particularly enjoyed writing their worries in a sand tray and then rub them out. Their teacher later told me that one of the girls was a selective mute and was so surprised to see her chatting with me (a complete stranger) as we did the activities. I was so happy for this girl, that she felt safe enough to share her fears and give them to God. It was a special moment.

Q: If someone is thinking about getting started, what advice would you give them?

The most successful Prayer Spaces have been in schools we already have a relationship with. You already know and are known by the school. Prayer Space is not just about doing a great event in school but is an ongoing conversation with the school community about how you can serve them and the students in their care.