The 79th Bishop of Salisbury Rt Revd Stephen Lake has been welcomed to Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) by Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Gough.
Joined by Celia Johnson, AUB’s Student Support Manager, and Ruth Wells, Senior Chaplain for both AUB and Bournemouth University (BU), Stephen was given a tour of the University, visiting teaching areas for Performance Design and Costume, together with Innovation Studio and TheGallery.
Stephen met final year BA (Hons) Costume students Shannah Foster, and Maddie Dyer, who spoke to the Bishop about AUB's small and friendly campus, while creating garments to support AUB Productions' upcoming musical, Masque Macabre.
Visiting the Faith and Reflection Centre, a facility shared between AUB and neighbouring BU, the Bishop blessed newly renovated space with an Act of Dedication while meeting students from across different backgrounds, religions, and cultures.
Appointed by the late HM Queen Elizabeth II, Stephen took up the role of Bishop of Salisbury in June 2022, with a pastoral district or diocese of more than 434 parishes and 573 churches, including the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey in the Channel Islands.
Stephen said: “I’m here to discover the universities within our diocese, and it’s been fantastic. I’ve had an amazing morning discovering the stunning creativity going on here and the level of engagement that I’ve witnessed has been really moving.
“Post pandemic, people in leadership are recognising that people are still very distant from one another; we’ve almost lost the ability to be comfortable in the presence of others and feel as if you’re part of something. If we all want to belong, we need to work together very closely.
Universities are about educating the whole person, and their pastoral responsibility is important. We are seeing through our link with schools that a huge worry is around mental health, after coming out of such a challenging period in our lives. Key organisations can work together in that area, to have a big impact in mental health and general wellbeing.
Speaking about the University Retreat, which opens in March, Stephen added: “I have been inspired by the facility, and I’m glad for it to be named The Retreat; somewhere that is safe, staffed and funded. It really demonstrates partnership.”
Celia Johnson, Student Support Manager at AUB, said: “This is about joining communities and most importantly, carrying with us an inter-faith ethos. We have such a diverse community here, and we’re keen for students to be exposed to different faiths and ideas about community.
“The Bishop talked about how mental health and wellbeing is top of the agenda for large organisations, including ours, where young people and young adults need to be supported. If we can join these organisations up, I think that’s a great place to start.”
Professor Paul Gough, Vice-Chancellor at AUB said: “It was wonderful to welcome Stephen to AUB, and for him to meet and see at work some of our brilliant and creative students, as well as tour our campus and facilities.
“Coming from an institution that feeds into many community groups, the Bishop talked to us about the importance of joining together key large organisations to tackle the challenges we all face in terms of mental health and wellbeing.”