Welcome to the Team Catherine Clayton
Catherine, tell us a bit about yourself and how long have you been involved in Prayer Spaces in Schools.
Hello! I started working for Prayer Spaces in Schools in October. Although I have had the joy of being a part of the Prayer Spaces in Schools core team since May 2010. I joined the team shortly after running my first prayer space.
How did you become involved in Prayer Spaces in Schools?
I heard about the idea from a friend back in 2009 while I was teaching in a primary school just south of Oxford. She thought I should run a prayer room in the school where I was teaching. There was no website, just a forty page PDF pack which Phil Togwell sent me. I instantly deleted it. I was a year six teacher and on the senior leadership team for the school, I did not have time to be reading a forty page pack about how to run a prayer room in a school! However, a few weeks later, I thought that with the relatively newly formed staff prayer group we could organise a prayer space. A few months later with the staff prayer team and with the help of local churches I ran my first prayer space. Shortly after I met Phil and a month or so later I joined the small Prayer Spaces in Schools Team.
What was it about Prayer Spaces in Schools that made you want to get involved?
I remember standing in the first prayer space I ran as a teacher. We had the space open after school for parents to visit with their children. It was Wednesday after school and the room was full of parents and children taking part in the prayer activities together. I just knew in that moment that prayer spaces needed to happen in schools across Oxfordshire. The prayer space was having an impact on the whole school community, it was a safe place for students, staff and parents to have space to pause, stop, reflect or pray and consider something beyond themselves. I left my job that summer and raised my own support to begin to develop the work across Oxfordshire. 8 years later, over 300 prayer spaces had happened and well over 1/3 of the schools in the county had had prayer spaces, the majority of them regularly. In that time, I set up BeSpace to support churches in Oxfordshire in running prayer spaces.
Tell us a bit about what the last 18 months has looked like for you?
Where to start! It has been 18 months of seeing God’s provision in so many ways. To cut a very long story short it was in August 2017 that I felt God calling me to move on from BeSpace and Oxford. Over the last year I have handed the charity over to a new leader who is amazing and the work is flourishing with her at the helm. Then early this year Phil asked me if I would join the staff of Prayer Spaces In Schools to develop and build our volunteer networkers across the country. In August this year I moved to London and since October have been working for Prayer Spaces in Schools.
Now you’ve joined the Prayer Spaces in Schools team, what is your role?
For a couple of years Phil has been keen to provide more support to our 40+ Networkers who do an amazing job of championing Prayer Spaces across their regions. My job is to support, grow and develop our network and to oversee Prayer Spaces in Schools training.
What’s your dream for your role?
I never would have imagined eight years ago when I ran my first prayer space in a rural village primary school that eight years later over one third of the schools in the county would have had them! I am also astounded that 91 schools (over ¼ of the schools in Oxfordshire) had prayer spaces in the last academic year alone.
My dream is to see local churches equipped and confident in running prayer spaces in their local schools, enabling young people in every school to have space to pause, pray or reflect. Prayer Spaces tend to grow and develop in areas where we have Networkers. I am looking forward to supporting and increasing our amazing team of Networkers so that we can see local churches confidently running prayer spaces in their local area.