Well, today was a tough day with only 13 people coming to Sanctum. However, our enthusiastic team reasoned that if the people weren’t with us we’d better go to them. This is a big college and there are plenty of places where small groups of people gather. Most of them were not aware of Sanctum, but were interested and in many cases quite long conversations developed. Over the course of the day we identified several small factors which together were making it difficult for people to get to Sanctum.
- People didn’t really know about it. Posters all round the college quoting positive comments from students who came last year and notices in tutorial bulletins were not enough in the blizzard of notices, posters, things to do and important announcements that students have to process. Apparently the daily tutorial notice sheet can run to 2 sides of A4 so inevitably tutors have to select the most important ones for their group. I can quite understand that that might not be us.
- There is nowhere ‘central’ in the college that is neutral territory. Every corridor, landing, open space or corner ‘belongs’ to some social group or other which makes walking through any of the buildings a journey through a patchwork of tribal territories. After only a few weeks most people follow certain routes and avoid others.
- Similarly, due to the courses they are taking, some students never come into the block where Sanctum was installed.
- With so many optional activities on offer, and the town centre being just 2 minutes away, there is a very strong culture of not going to things you don’t have to during free periods. Other groups, clubs or activities suffer the same low turnout.
However, for those that did visit, on Monday as well as Thursday and Friday last week, Sanctum proved to be helpful, inspiring and for some, very moving. Towards the end of the day a girl came in, wrote on the prayer wall and sat in the prayer tent. One of the team went to see if she wanted to talk and ended up in a 30 minute conversation about some difficult situations the girl was facing. Sanctum had provided a space for her to open up about these things that didn’t otherwise exist in college or apparently elsewhere.