Chaplain Revd Ben Edson
Address St Peter’s House, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9GH
St Peter’s House stpeters.org.uk
ALL WILL BE WELL… this 5-metre message will tower over Oxford Road and the University
campus’ this year, the massive poster installed just as this year’s students begin their
experience of life within the ‘new normal’ of global pandemic.
It’s a hopeful but also challenging message as now more than ever we’re learning to live
with uncertainty, and ‘All Will Be Well’ can feel more of a question than a statement. For
students – many of them young people living away from home for the first time – this
question will become all the more important as the realities of covid-19 take effect on their
lives and finances.
The enormous banner takes centre stage on the front of St Peter’s House, chaplaincy to the
Manchester Universities, and its installation will mark the start of a year of support for
students and locals exploring ‘All Will Be Well’ in covid-19 times. Central to this will be a
new project called ‘The Well’, a holistic project offering food, online cookery classes,
mindfulness and yoga, in-person and virtual support – all at no cost to anyone on or around
campus in food or financial crisis, often made worse by the social isolation caused by covid19.
“Installing ‘All Will Be Well’ marks a moment to pause as we prepare to launch ‘The Well’,”
says Hannah Skinner, Director of Development and Engagement at St Peter’s House, “but
we’re actually only passing on a medieval message. The words come from a woman, Julian
of Norwich, writing in social isolation having lived through the bubonic plague. She, like us,
didn’t know that everything would be OK, instead hoping in a different, deeper idea of
‘well’. We want to bring that message to the 21st century – hope for the future but
questions about what being ‘well’ means now.” For graphic artist Micah Purnell, who
designed the banner, ‘All Will Be Well’ has been a chance to communicate on a big scale.
“My dream is to create a world where a city’s visual landscape offers hope,” he explains,
“and there is no better time to see life affirming messages, than now.”
Student wellbeing is a serious concern for all those supporting them at this time.
“Developing this project has led to many conversations with partners in university support
services who are braced for the impact of covid-19 on students, especially the most
vulnerable”, explains Hannah. Whilst some students have always sought financial assistance
it’s now anticipated that food and financial crisis will significantly increase as students
return to campus, with those with the highest levels of existing needs the worst affected.
Social isolation and increasing mental health concerns within this age-range lead to good
food and nutrition becoming more significant, alongside wider the wellbeing practices
offered by The Well. “’All Will Be Well’ brings a green shoot of fresh thinking,” says Hannah,
“we hope it will make people stop and think as they pass by.”
St Peter’s House: a place for curiosity, encounter and gift
We are the Christian chaplaincy for the Manchester Universities and the Royal Northern College of Music, and we’re based at St Peter’s House. We see the abundant good all around the city and believe that God is at work before us in all things. Our task is to journey with staff and students as they explore what this may mean.
The St Peter’s House team are explorers, pioneers and do-ers. We are building an inclusive, vibrant and diverse community of fellow wonderers – come and journey with us.
Rev Ben Edson, Director of St. Peter’s House Chaplaincy
Rev Ben Edson is the Director of St. Peter’s House Chaplaincy. He is an ordained Anglican who has spent the last 20 years leading and working alongside churches and charities – believing that faith has something positive to offer to society today, but that religion really needs to take a good, long look at itself for the way it’s dressed that message up over the years!
A typical day for Ben could be meeting with staff and students for pastoral care, engaging with the Universities and the denominations, looking after Bees (yes, we have Bees at SPH), meeting with tenants and new potential tenants or dealing with finance and charity matters.
Ben also co-ordinates the Universities’ Multi-Faith Chaplaincy when he works alongside Chaplains of many faith traditions to ensure chaplaincy is offered to all the faith communities at the University.
If you’d like to get in touch with Ben or any of the team from SPH then please head over to their website: