Sanctum at Stanway School – Friday

Sanctum_ST10_3Stanway was our tenth Sanctum here in Colchester which we have now run in five secondary schools and the Sixth Form College. In many ways it was one of the best.

Firstly the venue was perfect. The huge flexible space in the Learning Resources Centre proved to be ideal in that it was somewhere that pupils visit regularly at break and lunch times so we were never short of visitors. This familiarity with the venue meant that pupils were immediately comfortable and could focus on the activities.

Secondly, we felt that, with the addition of two new activities in the 2 weeks prior to this one, we’d reached a very satisfactory balance in the range of experiences and learning styles. This was borne out in feedback which showed individual positive responses for every one of the activities, even if some continue to have a broader impact than others.

The new “Identity” zone (the black draped area in the picture) exceeded our expectations in terms of the impact on young people. Here are some of their comments:

  • It makes me respect myself. I haven’t got much confidence and it makes me feel good about myself.
  • Made me feel good about myself and see myself in a different way to others.
  • It calmed me down and made me think positively.
  • It made me think differently about myself and not judge myself by the outside.
  • I felt more confident about myself and my appearance.
  • It made me realise I can’t change who I am to someone else.

Thirdly, the impact on the whole school. We had a steady stream of teachers popping in because they’d heard about Sanctum. They were all deeply moved by the concept and by the responses of pupils and many ended up doing several of the activities. This accounts for the note on the ‘Thankful’ activity, “for my baby boy” which caused some consternation to pupils until they were told it was a teacher’s response! Today we had a brief visit from the local MP, and, separately, a longer stay by the local Councillor who got quite involved in looking at each of the stations and was moved by the response of the young people.

Although we’ve been on a three week journey with Sanctum, there was still a sadness about taking it all down and packing it up for the summer. To be able to run something like this that touches so many lives so profoundly is an awesome privilege. The final word goes to the young people, gleaned from class feedback forms;

  • It’s a relaxing, calming and spiritual place.
  • This was a great experience for me as it made me stop and think about the world and God.
  • It was a life changing experience.
  • You changed my thoughts about life and God.
  • I’m so happy now!


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