The wellbeing team was now referring students to us rather than the Hub

30th March 2023

For the past few years, we have been running a mentoring program called Starfish at our local high school. Last year, one of the other mentors was running a 24/7 prayer space in her outreach youth cafe and mentioned that half a dozen 15-year-old girls who could be a little boisterous came into the space and their entire demeanour changed. As a result of this experience, four of them separately told the leader that they would love to have a space like this in their high school, so I decided to approach the school. What we proposed was a pop-up space during Children’s Mental Health Week in February, and they agreed to it!

I’d never run a prayer space in a school before, but I knew the website had a plethora of activities that would benefit young people’s mental health and well-being. We didn’t know how much set-up time we’d have or whether we’d have to set up/pack down each day until a few days before, so the activities we chose were influenced by that. We were given a small classroom to use for the entire week, which was fantastic because it allowed us to hang as much voile cloth and fairy lights as would stay up to try to make the space cosier.

Despite getting the school and wellbeing department to retweet that we were coming, sending notices to all form tutors to announce that we were there at registration, and sticking up posters all over the site, we only had 15-20 people stop in their tracks and say “WOW” and “isn’t that lovely” on the first day.

Thankfully, after three lads arrived on day two, more and more people learned about it and went in. Water beads appear to be popular among both teenagers and toddlers! By the end of the week, we had expanded our opening hours from just lunch break to morning break and everything in between because the wellbeing team was now referring students to us rather than the Hub. On Friday, we had 55 visitors who, with the exception of a couple, were all engaged in at least one activity. It was difficult to keep track of all the positive comments made by both staff and students, but they all expressed a desire for a permanent space! We’ve also been invited back by a member of staff to take over her classroom for a few days so that all of her students in the unit can have a similar experience.

To manage the space, we had a team of 2-3 volunteers each day who are also part of our mentoring team. One of our volunteers works as the manager of a Youth Centre in town, which also runs a street-based youth project in the local park every Saturday evening. Normally, between 10 and 20 young people would come to see them in the evening. However, 48 young people visited the park on the Saturday following the prayer space. Things can get a little hectic when there are 20 young people around, but on this day, even with 48, the atmosphere was really relaxed. We thank God for the relationships we continue to build with the school and look forward to future opportunities as the school moves into a new building.

Prayer Activities used can be found by clicking on the title below

Stress Less. Think Good Thoughts. Finger Breathing. Kindness Postcards

Rollercoaster Life. Dove of Peace. Just a minute. Love you neighbour.

Bag of worries. New World