Manchester/London prayer space helps pupils to pray

“Sue Kirby’s team had been planning the prayer space in Weston Favell for a while. But then the events in Manchester in London changed everything.

Sue Kirby is the Children and Family Worker at St Peter’s Weston Favell, near Northampton, and she’s one of our amazing regional Networkers.

Sue’s team, from a variety of local churches, recently hosted a ‘Transition and Change’ prayer space for the Year 6 pupils with Weston Favell Primary School, who then opened it up to other schools within their Multi-Academy Trust. “The response was overwhelming,” Sue said afterwards.

“When we were planning the prayer space, two things happened that meant we had to create new prayer activities. First, the staff at Weston Favell asked for something themed around ‘friendship’ – we couldn’t find one in the Prayer Spaces in Schools library of resources, so we created a new activity, called Friendship Foundation, which the pupils really liked;

– “The friendship bracelets helped me know what to look for in a good friend and how I could be a better friend.” Year 6 pupil

– “I liked the friendship activity helpful because It helped me realize that a good friend has lots of different qualities.” Year 6 pupil

The other thing was the terrorist attack in Manchester, and then the one in London, which happened on the Saturday just before our prayer space started. We knew that we needed to find something that would give the children an opportunity to remember those who had been killed, and pray for those who had been wounded and for the families of all involved, and also an opportunity to give thanks for the many acts of kindness.

“I cannot thank you enough for what you do. The importance of these activities can never be measured but I can assure you the impact is everlasting! Thanks.”

So, we created another new prayer activity and we called it Where Is The Love? after the Black Eyed Peas song that Ariana Grande performed at Manchester’s One Love concert. Interestingly, 90% of the Year 6 pupils were aware of the concert and the song, and so it meant a lot to them.

The activity itself invited the pupils to pause and reflect on what had happened in Manchester and London for just 1 minute, using an egg-timer. And then it encouraged them to think about, and say thank you for, the love and the many acts of kindness and courage in both locations. The pupils were invited to light a battery tea light as a symbol of their thoughts and prayers. Sadly, half-way through the prayer space, we heard news of the terrible fire in the Grenfell Tower block in London, and so the prayer activity became the focus of reflection and prayer for a third tragic event.

Over the years of hosting prayer spaces, I have witnessed pupils sharing their concerns and worries about war and famine about refugees and earthquakes. This year, however, more than any previous year, they’ve been worried about terrorism. I do believe that it is important to give children space to share their feelings – particularly their fears and anxieties – about the terrible things that they see and hear in the world, and to acknowledge that it’s OK to feel the way that they do. But I also believe that there is value in looking for the light amongst the darkness, for the good amongst the bad.

When I was a boy and would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” author, Fred Rogers

After the prayer space, the Head teachers were incredibly grateful. “I cannot thank you enough for what you do,” said one of them. “The importance of these activities can never be measured but I can assure you the impact is everlasting! Thanks.”

Another wrote to us saying, “The prayer space has provided an opportunity for deep reflection. We look forward to embedding this next year and will fit perfectly with our wellbeing agenda. The prayer space is truly unique.”

What a fortnight!

Sue Kirby is the Children and Family Worker at St Peter’s Weston Favell, near Northampton”


Taken from    25.7.17