Sanctum at The Gilberd School

Last week we took Sanctum back to The Gilberd School for the fourth year running. We had RE classes visiting, sometimes as half groups and on occasions whole groups which made the place feel rather full. But we were also open at break and lunchtime when students enthusiastically returned, some because they’d been in lessons and others just because we were there.

As with the previous Sanctum we’re firmly limiting numbers at break and lunch times, in this case to about 15 ,which has made a massive difference to the impact it has on people. There’s a greater sense of space and peace which students are saying they really like. As a team we’re committed to the principle, which we believe God impressed on us, that it’s principally about the individuals and the more individual we can make the experience the better. As before, we also shunned any number crunching. I don’t know how many we had through in the week.

New for this school was the Identity activity (the black structure in the far corner of the photo above) – as one student said, “…it made me look at myself in a different way instead of what everybody else thinks of you and that you are unique and no one could change who you really are.” The Character activity, featured in a previous post, was also new and hugely popular; “It helped me realise what’s important, like love, courage and peace.”

At the end of this activity students are asked if they’d like to write their chosen characteristics onto luggage tags to take away as a reminder. I love how young people initiate trends… here many of them took to tying the tag to their wrist – a very public and visible reminder that we never anticipated!

As a team we each have a load of memorable moments. One of my favourites was chatting with a girl looking at the Thankful activity when she suddenly spotted her name on a heart post it note, left by another student. She visibly lit up, calling her friends over excitedly to show them. “That’s made your day hasn’t it?” I said. “Yes, I didn’t realise I meant so much to them.”

Finally, here are a few quotes from the class feedback forms in response to the question,
“How has Sanctum changed your ideas about prayer, if at all?”.

Firstly, the ones that weren’t so positive!

  • It hasn’t really changed my idea of prayer that much as I don’t pray because I honestly don’t see the need to, but in a way it has changed my opinion of prayer as it has shown me how praying can help people.
  • It hasn’t at all!
  • No, because you don’t pray in there and I don’t believe in God
  • Sanctum has not changed my ideas about prayer. I do not believe it does anything.
  • It hasn’t changed my way I pray but it has made me think about different things and the way I act

The majority of students said they’d found Sanctum really helpful. Here are a few of the most positive comments…

  • Before, I never prayed but after being at the ‘prayer beads’ I prayed quite a lot with them
  • It teaches you about God always being there for you and is a lot better for our age than a normal church. It also shows you different ways to pray!
  • It made me understand that anyone can be a Christian and can believe in God for help.
  • From now on I might pray more. I won’t just pray for myself, but also other people who are not as lucky as I am.
  • Sanctum has changed my ideas about prayer by helping me to have more confidence, because you know that God is around us everyday, it makes feel like if you fall he will pick you up off the floor.
  • It made me think that maybe I should pray more often.


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