The Story of BeSpace

Have you every wondered how BeSpace began? Here is a short summary of the journey of BeSpace so you know!

In March 2010 the first prayer space in Oxfordshire took place at Benson CE Primary. It was initiated by Catherine Clayton who co founded BeSpace. She was a teacher and part of the senior leadership team in the school at the time. Catherine with the staff prayer group, which she and a colleague had started a year previously organised the prayer space, recruiting local churches to help.

Catherine initially discovered the idea of prayer spaces from a friend and decided to find out more. In 2007 the first ever prayer space happened in the North of England and by the time of the first one in Oxfordshire, just 36 had happened in the whole of England. Prayer Spaces in Schools was established as a national project in the summer of 2010, and Catherine joined its national leadership team.

After Catherine saw the impact of the prayer space at Benson, she left her teaching role in September 2010 and began raising her own financial support to pioneer prayer spaces across the county.

She says ‘I stood in the prayer space one day after school, it was filled with children showing their parents their prayers and reflections, parents were doing some of the activities with their children. Children, adults and Families were pausing and reflecting on life. And I just knew that prayer spaces needed to happen in every school in the county.’

In the first year, 10 schools had prayer spaces and it has grown ever since. Joseph Colliass, a local church volunteer in a prayer space in Grove in 2011 joined Catherine in the October of that year to pioneer the concept across Oxfordshire. As the demand for prayer spaces grew Catherine and Joseph began to consider the long term sustainability of the work and along with an interest to see prayer spaces happen in other areas of the community they felt led to set up a charitable structure. Joseph and Catherine founded BeSpace which became a charity in August 2016. At the time of writing we know that over 500 prayer spaces in over 140 schools have happened since 2010.

The aim has always been to equip local churches to work together ecumenically to serve the spiritual life of their local schools through prayer spaces. The strategy which Catherine and Joseph used was one of modelling to churches, training churches, giving advice and providing the physical equipment to churches to run prayer spaces in their local school. This strategy is currently unique to Oxfordshire and is why along with two people full time from almost the beginning the county has seen the most prayer spaces than any other county in England.

In the June of 2015 Joseph moved on from BeSpace and Catherine continued the work. After receiving charitable status in 2016, BeSpace employed Mary Phillips in January 2017 as a prayer spaces in school’s coordinator. In the summer of 2018 Catherine moved on from BeSpace and Mary became the CEO. Kirsty Morgan, a former BeSpace networker, joined the team as our project coordinator in January 2019. The work continues to grow.