The following Review of Activities for Southlands Methodist Trust for September 2020 to August 2021 provides the same content as the downloadable pdf and printed versions of the SMT Review of Activities. In addition to the overview provided by this website as a whole, this report focuses on specific activities in the latest completed year.
The Trustees of the Southlands Methodist Trust (SMT) are pleased to offer this account of the charity’s work during the course of the year 2020-21.
The charitable purposes of the Trust, its position within a collegiate university, and its reach into the broader learning life of the Church provide opportunities for creative and innovative interventions. Working so closely with institutions that share commitments to creating meaningful change and transforming lives, SMT interventions have the potential for significant impact on learning and practice. Throughout this report are examples of how the charity has advanced that mission.
This website also shares more about the breadth of our activities to encourage further engagement with our work amongst our key partners, to extend our impact beyond those with whom we already work, and to support the delivery of our charitable objects. We have also produced printed materials which sit alongside this and which are available from the college offices.
The continuing challenges caused by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic during 2020-21 led to some limitations on our work, but it also continued to present opportunities for novel ways of working. It allowed us to embed innovative practice using new technologies, which emerged in the preceding year.
Click the dropdown headings below to find out more about the activities of the Trust in the 2020-21 year. Thank you for taking an interest in the Southlands Methodist Trust. Please do contact the Trustees if you would like to work with us and help shape what we become in future years.
Objectives and Activities
The aims and purposes of the charity are:
- as part of the work carried out through the Discipleship and Ministries Learning Network, to support in association with the college and university the development of Christian, and specifically Methodist, scholarship, research and innovation, of local, national and global significance and to facilitate the public dissemination of such developments.
- to enable members of the Methodist community and wider public in Britain and internationally to benefit from the academic and other expertise and experience within the college and the university and the facilities available within them.
- to enrich the community life of the college and the work of its chaplaincy in ways that reflect its Methodist values and ethos.
- to maintain and develop the relationship between the Methodist Church, the college and the university in the context of developing the contribution made to the work carried out through the Discipleship and Ministries Learning Network.
- to further the wider charitable purposes of the Methodist Church through close working with the other persons and bodies responsible for the work carried out through the Discipleship and Ministries Learning Network.
Research and Knowledge Exchange (RKE)
Work with the University of Roehampton
Together with its sister colleges, Southlands College provides the physical spaces for the academic work of the University of Roehampton to take place; our colleges are the building blocks that provide the context for that work. However, the contributions of Southlands to the advanced academic activities of the university also extend into more direct contributions and resourcing.
During 2020-21, plans were formed to restructure considerably the university’s RKE centres in order to focus work on key themes. Many of these themes overlap with areas of interest in the mission of the Methodist Church and work was done to explore how, in practice, these centres can better collaborate with the Methodist Church to ensure an alignment of interest. As a result, in the coming academic year, representatives from Southlands will be included in the planning and development of the university’s research priorities; the Director of the Susanna Wesley Foundation has been invited to take a role on the advisory board for the university’s RKE Centre for Practical Philosophy, Theology and Religion. This opportunity for input will ensure that RKE activities at Southlands and through the Southlands Methodist Trust can be both informed by and also inform the RKE work of the wider research environment at Roehampton.
In the reporting year, the Southlands Methodist Trust continued to fund RKE at the University of Roehampton in areas that meet the charitable objectives of the Trust and that have benefit to the public more broadly. Each year the Head of Southlands College works with the Trustees of the SMT to manage and administer a grants-awarding scheme for RKE work in the university that supports both the research profile of the university and the charitable purposes of the Trust. In 2020-21, a number of projects took place across Roehampton’s departments, and a further series of grants were awarded for the following academic year.
To read about the small grant projects commenced during 2020-21, and those approved for 2021-22, click here.
Large, collaborative projects
From time to time, staff at Southlands College work with the Trustees of the SMT and academics at Roehampton to shape projects that require a more significant funding commitment over a longer period.
During the reporting year, one such project involved research exploring examples of joint Methodist-Roman Catholic social action work across the United Kingdom. The project used participative, qualitative research methods and ways of reflecting on the data that are advocated in Theological Action Research. This project involved academics, theologians and practitioners coming together from a number of institutions to reflect on what had been heard from those on the ground in different ecumenical contexts. The project engaged with a range of intentions and approaches, and has yielded some significant questions about what the church can learn from everyday ecumenism, the results of which will be published in future years.
Exploring ecumenism in practice has been a particular focus of work sponsored by the SMT in recent years, drawing on the Methodist Church’s commitments in this area and aiming to honour the ecumenical heritage of the University of Roehampton and its founding colleges. Continuing this work, the Trustees agreed in the spring of 2021 to sponsor a new, significant project through the university’s School of Humanities, called ‘Faith Long Lived: Ecumenical Experiences of Saying the Creed’. The project will examine, empirically and theoretically, the experience of saying the creed in the context of Christian worship in some of the local faith communities in the Roehampton area, including Methodist communities.
RKE and chaplaincy
The ‘Most Significant Change’ Project was an action research project, led by the Susanna Wesley Foundation, involving the multi-faith chaplaincy team at Roehampton.
The purpose of the project was to explore the contribution that chaplaincy makes to the life of the university and to the staff and student education experience in particular, and to find ways of capturing and demonstrating that contribution. Part of the project involved determining an appropriate method for uncovering impact within the context of religious ministry and the MSC methodology was chosen as an approach that accommodated the distinctive nature of chaplaincy and its intentions.
The MSC methodology involves collecting stories that reveal some change or impact. It has been used in a range of charities and non-governmental organisations where the raison d’être is social change, and where more traditional approaches to monitoring and evaluation have not been found to take account of the complexity of the work or reflect the nature of the changes being sought. Similarly, in relation to chaplaincy (and HE chaplaincy in particular), it is difficult to track impact and to do so in such a way that recognizes the subtleties of the work.
The project has been a collaborative process involving testing a version of the MSC methodology and using it as a vehicle for individual and team learning. Whilst gathering stories and mining them for meaning has been part of the project, the process has also aimed to uncover something about what is most valued by different chaplains, their various callings and motivations, and their different understandings. More broadly, the process of undertaking the project together has provided an opportunity for exploring the place and purposes of chaplaincy within the context presented by the university.
An ‘Evaluation and Reflective Practice Tool’ for use in connection with chaplaincy activities and events has been developed as an outcome of the project. This will be trialled over the coming year, both to offer the chaplaincy team a means of reflecting on their work and its impact, and also in order to explore whether a contribution can be made into the wider HE sector, both in terms of scholarship and the development of practice. As this happens, questions around intention and impact will continue to feature at Roehampton as the chaplains work together to contribute to the flourishing of the university’s staff and students.
The Susanna Wesley Foundation
The Susanna Wesley Foundation (SWF) is a community of scholars and practitioners based at Southlands College and supported directly by both the Southlands Methodist Trust and the University of Roehampton. The Foundation’s purpose is to facilitate research and enquiry that influences practice and generates learning of benefit to the wider community.
Values and approach
Throughout 2020-21, the Foundation continued to encourage conversations that brought together people from a range of academic, professional, cultural and faith backgrounds to generate new understandings and questions for future research and activity. In January 2021, SWF embarked on a new theme for the calendar year – ‘Embodied Faith’ – and in the light of the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, SWF’s customary annual conference was re-imagined as a series of online events to discuss how embodiment connects with knowing, belonging and ministering. These events showcased the Foundation’s values and approach in bringing together academics and practitioners, authors of secular books with published theologians, and clergy with lay, along with students, tutors, chaplains and community leaders. Central to the events were conversations between the speakers, and then breakout sessions in smaller groups followed by more open conversation. The aim was to create an environment that encouraged participation and the exchange of ideas between those with different perspectives, triggering creative thought and building connections across silos, whether disciplinary or other.
The impetus for the work of the Foundation continued to be to contribute to the building of flourishing communities – an ideal that aligns with the University of Roehampton’s approach – and this was reflected in many of its activities and the research that it conducted and sponsored.
Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.1 peter 4: 10
The SWF community
Building connections between academics, practitioners and the wider community has thus continued: the employees, sponsored doctoral students, Associates and Honorary Research Fellows of the Foundation are one – if a very significant – part of a larger group of people who participate in our activities, listen to our podcasts, and receive our regular newsletters. This determinedly relational approach is informed by our search for dialogue between research and practice.
Given this desire for exchange between academics and practitioners, SWF is an enthusiastic supporter of the university’s professional doctorate in theology, and over the year has sponsored a number of students who have chosen this route in preference to a PhD. Their areas of study include: disability theology and embodied ways to know God; the work of lay employees within British Methodism and its relationship to vocation and calling; story-telling and culture change in local Methodist churches; and non-binary gender, the Bible, and Christian practice. SWF has also sponsored two other students to complete their PhDs. One of these students is using theological action research as his methodology – a participative approach to research that we favour in the Foundation – and a second student has been looking at the relationship between organisation theory and ecclesiology, thus bringing together different disciplines, another feature that we encourage.
Justice, dignity and solidarity
2020-21 has been a significant year in the Methodist Church’s quest to become an inclusive church, with the development of its strategy around equality, diversity and inclusion. Members of the Susanna Wesley Foundation – staff and associates – contributed to this development, drawing on the previous work of the Foundation around cultural difference and around learning, transformation and systemic change. The outcome of this work in the Methodist Church has been termed a ‘Strategy for Justice, Dignity and Solidarity’. Justice and inclusion is a priority area of interest for the Foundation and SWF will continue to work with the Church in this area. It also aligns with one of the University of Roehampton’s research and knowledge exchange priorities: Social Justice and Inclusivity.
Given the priority accorded by the Foundation to this area, we also focused a number of podcasts, both in our ‘Flourishing’ (2020) and our ‘Embodied Faith’ (2021) series, around this theme: topics included neurodiversity, social activism and racial justice, and solidarity. These and other podcasts have been posted on the Foundation’s website; some of them feature members of the university – students and staff – but also practitioners and clergy, Methodist and other. The aim is to facilitate conversation between those of different perspectives and backgrounds and, in the exchange, to generate new questions and understandings, both during the conversations themselves but also in their dissemination to others via the website, so serving our communities and promulgating our values. Such SWF work is in line with the university’s philosophy of research and knowledge exchange and in accordance with many of the university’s priorities in this regard, and all of it connects to the interface between faith and society.
Supporting academic dialogue and expanding participation
In the light of the lack of representation of those from the global majority in academic theology communities, the Foundation funded student bursaries for attendance at the Society for the Study of Theology (SST) and the British and Irish Association for Practical Theology (BIAPT) conferences. This is part of a package of initiatives being taken by these groups in their quest to become more inclusive, and thus to enhance their scholarship, and both listen and learn from a wider range of voices.
The Foundation also supported the University of Roehampton’s Research Group in Theology, Religion and Practice, sponsoring some speakers and contributing others from its own community.
Well-being in ministry
SWF continued to sponsor work around well-being in ministry, with the completion of a project looking at a particular theory of human behaviour – Bowen family systems theory – and its application in the context of local churches. A resource entitled Flourishing Ministers, Flourishing Communities has grown out of this project, which provides ministers with insights into the interplay between self and system, and helps them to handle the dynamics involved in their roles; it will be launched soon. The colleague involved completed her doctorate at Roehampton, has previously delivered a seminar to the university’s practical theology research group and has presented at SWF conferences. Such connections with the university’s staff, students and alumni contribute to the life of the Foundation. In terms of the area of study, well-being is a priority area for the university and it will also continue to feature in the Foundation’s work.
Work around learning, strategy and change
Work around learning and change continue to feature in the Foundation’s portfolio, with ongoing projects in both areas. The theological action research project exploring learning in Methodism involving University of Roehampton academics has been of benefit to a number of Methodist communities; disseminating the insights gained became the focus of the work in 2021. In relation to a project looking at models and understandings of change in the context of Methodism, 2020-21 has seen some empirical work, the findings from which will be shared in the 2021-22 academic year, along with those from another project looking at how ‘Church strategy’ is perceived and enacted in local contexts.
Publications and dissemination
In 2021, Fuzzy Church: Gospel and Culture in the North of England was published, a book that presents the findings and implications of qualitative field research that was sponsored by the Foundation in 2018-19. The authors, Nigel Rooms and Elli Wort, presented the book at an event sponsored by the Foundation in summer 2021, in partnership with the university’s research group in theology, religion and practice, and with a response from the Methodist Church’s ‘Church at the Margins’ Officer.
The year also saw a number of events arising out of the publication of Mapping Faith: theologies of migration and community, edited by SWF’s Senior Research Officer, Lia Shimada. In line with SWF’s philosophy of sharing perspectives in generative conversation, Lia choreographed and facilitated a series of seminars that have showcased the book while building fruitful connections between its contributors, and posing interesting questions for the many attendees, over 100 in one instance. The approach highlighted the benefit of conversation between those of different faiths, and of creative ways of sharing understandings: one of the events centred around poetry, to beautiful and compelling effect.
SWF’s Communications and Resources Officer, Emma Pavey, had a peer-reviewed article published in the Journal of Practical Theology entitled ‘Exploring open and relational theology and Theory U for transformational change’.
Conference in partnership with MODEM: ‘Beyond Blame: Making Accountability Work’
The joint MODEM/SWF conference in 2020 was an online webinar that brought together academics and practitioners. Contributors, who were interviewed about their experience, encompassed organisational, political and social perspectives and covered both faith-based and secular contexts. Their reflections were then put alongside some of the theoretical ideas underpinning organisational, political and social accountability, looking both at what is difficult and what is possible. The conference received excellent feedback and provided another example of the dialogue between academic and practitioner understandings and perspectives that lies at the heart of SWF’s approach.
Plans for the future
As we go forward, the Susanna Wesley Foundation will give attention to sharing insights from the different projects it has conducted and funded over the last few years, organising events, developing resources and posting pieces on its website that showcase some of the work and generate further conversation and learning, for the benefit of the Church and the wider community. Justice, dignity and solidarity will continue to be an important theme, and the Foundation will support the Methodist Church as it implements its JDS strategy. Learning, particularly focusing on the laity and on learning in community, together with the complexities involved in systemic change, will be ongoing strands of work, but with a new emphasis on sustainability, well-being and building flourishing communities.
Enriching Community Life
An important aspect of the SMT’s work is to enrich the community life of Southlands College, specifically in ways that reflect its Methodist values and ethos, and through this to maintain and develop the relationship between the Methodist Church, the college and the University of Roehampton.
Enhancing student outcomes
Southlands College delivers a diverse programme of activities for students and staff throughout the year. Many of these are shaped and delivered by the college staff team, but the programme seeks to be one that is also co-created with our students and our academic departments in order to ensure it is engaging, relevant and intellectually stimulating. Students are encouraged to explore their own identity and develop a sense of belonging, while also engaging in activities that build on their academic learning and speak of the college’s values, values that are inherited from those of the Church and nurtured by the SMT.
The work of Southlands College continues to evolve as the institution expands and the Higher Education sector changes. Responding to this, and in efforts to ensure its programme of work is coherent, proactive and purposeful, Southlands has identified the focus of its activity around five broad areas:
Offering welcome, hospitality and belonging
Engaging our community in critical issues facing society
Encouraging the exploration of identity
Influencing whole-university identity and activity
The SMT provides support for this work, both through direct funding and the provision of resources and staff time, to enable the flourishing of these goals in practice within the life of the college.
Some examples of activity of this kind in the reporting year included:
- Supporting postgraduate students to present their research on the concepts of the Sticky Campus, and on the experience, belonging and attainment of BAME commuter students by co-organising two events; a staff conference they titled ‘Enhancing the BAME student experience’, and a student conference they called ‘Navigating through life as a BAME student’. A wide-ranging discussion helped educate members of the wider Roehampton community about the experience of our students, their identity and how they can be nurtured by educational bodies.
- Setting up a monthly Business Ethics Forum, which enabled students to discuss ethical issues, aiming to help students widen their horizons and thinking in the context of a more social learning environment, and in so doing to feel a sense of belonging at the Roehampton Business School and Southlands College.
- Establishing a ‘vlog’ called Careers, Values and Vocations: Women’s Stories, which celebrated achievements of women associated with Southlands; it encouraged students to consider their values and how they might be used to influence career choices.
Southlands Venture is a programme that builds on the college’s commitment to enable students to live as responsible citizens, encouraging our community members to explore how they can best use their interests and skills to make the world a better place.
Asking individuals to look beyond themselves in response to wider social issues, Venture projects can take the form of campaigning, volunteering, outreach, or charitable work, either within or beyond the university community. Venture projects always focus on issues of social concern and demonstrate positive interaction with the world in which we live. Students are encouraged to bring their own ideas to life or work on a project that emerges from the wider student community.
Southlands Venture enables these student initiatives to flourish by offering grants and mentoring. Coordinated by members of the college staff team, Venture is financed by the SMT and reflects a number of the Methodist Church’s core values as lived out at the college: a concern for social justice and fairness; enabling the development of human, social and organisational skills; and making a contribution to the wider community. These values are also embodied in the University of Roehampton’s Enabling Strategies and the skills encouraged by Southlands Venture map closely onto those that enable our graduates to become successful leaders in their future careers.
In the context of the pandemic, and in particular the ongoing impact of lockdown and experiences of digital fatigue, it was important for the Venture team to recognise the limitations of planning typical venture projects over 2020-21. Rather than pursuing individual projects to be delivered and supported remotely, the team decided to prioritise promoting Venture within the Southlands community, building collaborative links with the Business School, and exploring future ways of embedding Venture within the academic programmes overseen by the new Faculty of Business and Law. In doing this, the college staff team is seeking to extend the enrichment of inclusive and transformational student education communities for future years.
[God] has told you, O mortal, what is good…to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.micah 6: 8
During the course of the year, Venture activities included:
- the creation of a promotional video for use by the college team and academic schools;
- the sharing of promotional material online, in community spaces and in our international student welcome packs;
- developing relationships within the Faculty of Business and Law that enabled an extension of our understanding of one another’s programmes in relation to Venture, and the creative exploration of how Venture might be embedded for credit within the academic syllabus;
- offering Venture as an initiative pertinent to those attending our new co-curricular Business Ethics Forum as a tool to support students with ideas and ambitions to make a meaningful change within the world, with appropriate support and mentoring.
Although the opportunity for students to deliver community initiatives in person was limited, three practical volunteering projects were set up by the college team in which students could participate:
- ‘Painting and Decorating’: students learned practical skills while enhancing the college environment.
- ‘Planting and Growing’: both online and in-person sessions where students were provided with pots, compost, and plants to grow and nurture. This gave students opportunities to learn new skills, learn about sustainability and enhance personal well-being.
- ‘Creating Community Hampers’: this was a student-led campaign initiated by student leaders to encourage the Roehampton community to make charity donations for two food banks. It featured a video watched over 334 times, and an Instagram campaign interacted by with by 494 students.
Music remains a core activity at Southlands that builds skills, develops community and expresses creativity.
In 2020-21, music was more subdued than previously, in the face of the many and serious practical challenges of bringing people together to play and sing. However, the SMT continued to support activities at Southlands that offered the chance for our musicians to engage in community building, networking and performing. Working with individuals and groups through Zoom, staff and students also became part of online, livestream concerts and gigs through Facebook and other platforms. Our singers discovered the benefit of backing tracks, which enabled some semblance of collaborative performance at home and in their isolated flats on campus.
There were some highlights in the gaps between lockdowns, during which those on campus were able to take part in an outdoor community choir, in African drumming using the university drums donated by the Southlands Methodist Trust, and in some sessions on music and mindfulness in the Peace Garden at Digby Stuart College. Outdoor Christmas carols with the local primary school and karaoke with the college student leaders by the tree in Southlands Quad gave a lift to those on campus in late December. Together with chaplaincy and colleagues at Digby Stuart College, there was also a simple online carol service.
The college and SMT assisted in supporting the development of four musicians through our music scholarship programme. These four used scholarship funds to continue to study online with their teachers and to work on new repertoire. This was of particular benefit to those who also found that their part-time work was no longer available. Having this link running through the lockdown period gave students an extra level of support and focus during times of apparent inertia. As the pandemic restrictions lift, it is exciting to see the enthusiasm for music of those now returning to campus, and our more fulsome programme of work is already in full swing as we enter the 2021-22 academic year.
Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.martin luther
Awards, prizes and hardship/access grants
In 2020-21, the SMT continued to sponsor a range of prizes and awards for staff and students, encouraging a culture of excellence in academic achievement across the college.
Of particular value to the Trust is the awarding of prizes that celebrate the history and ethos of the college by honouring both individuals and their work that promote the Methodist identity of Southlands College. Examples of these awards include:
- The Susanna Wesley Award – given to a female staff member who promotes a values-focused approach, for an outstanding role in educational leadership in the college
- The Charles Wesley Award – given to a student or staff member who has contributed exceptionally to the development of community music at Southlands
- The John Wesley Award – given to a student who has contributed particularly notably to the student chapel community
- Postgraduate Award – for a postgraduate business studies student presenting a display about their work that shows special capacity for engagement with the community
In addition to these awards, the Trust, through the Head of College, offers small bursaries to students in positions of particular financial need. Some of these are attached to particular funds (the Smith Fund for Southlands students entering postgraduate study, the Aldridge Fund for supporting music in the college chapel and the Southlands Fund for supporting student activities) and others are from the main Trust funds. The Trustees intend to continue sponsoring these activities in future years.
Fulfilling the aim of the SMT to enrich the community life of Southlands College and its chaplaincy, the Trustees have continued to sponsor activities both within the college’s Methodist Chapel and through its Methodist chaplaincy, and also to encourage and support the wider provision of multi-faith chaplaincy work for the whole of the university community.
The Trust directly funds one post in the chaplaincy team. It also offers financing for some chaplaincy activities led by the Methodist Chaplain to the university and sponsors projects run across the wider multi-faith chaplaincy team that align with its charitable objectives. Three members of the university’s multi-faith chaplaincy team form part of the Southlands College team (both Methodist and Muslim); they work alongside Anglican and Roman Catholic chaplains and volunteer associate chaplains serving our Pentecostal, Jewish, and Christian LGBT+ communities.
At Southlands, our contributions to a university-wide programme of Christian worship are at times both distinctively Methodist and also ecumenical. These sit alongside our programme of worship and confessional activity for people of all faiths and none, with a special focus on our college’s large Muslim community. Our chaplains prioritise their wider work in areas that speak of the values and ethos formed from the college’s Methodist heritage, a heritage that gives life to those values in practice. A small selection of their work from the reporting year includes:
- The development of a Living Well programme, focusing on themes relating to ‘living well with ourselves and others’. The programme included a series of podcasts in which members of staff and the wider Methodist community were interviewed on issues including healthy eating, sustainable food, work-life balance, and foodbanks and the pandemic. Living Well also offered online drop-ins to enable students to connect with one another and chaplaincy staff whilst in isolation. The focus for these drop-ins was around general self-care and, in response to the need of those attending, experiencing bereavement in isolation.
- The development of Reef Reads as a college community initiative: short, student-focused book reviews that promote reading across the college community, celebrate the achievements of our academic staff, and increase awareness of staff and student leaders connected with our community. Books reviewed involved themes that reflect our college identity and the inclusive values of the university, celebrating Black History Month, LGBT+ History Month, Local and Community History Month and Earth Day.
- The College Chaplain has a particular role in the external work of the college. In 2020-21, she represented the college and university within wider networks, including engagement with the London HE Chaplains Network and the National Methodist HE Chaplains Network. She also presented the work of Southlands College in relation to Roehampton’s ecumenical community at Barat House to the President of the Methodist Conference as part of a local Circuit event. During the year, both students and staff made a distinctly Methodist contribution to our local community by offering recorded music, readings and prayers for Putney Methodist Church’s worship and our wider Methodist circuit.
- The College Chaplain has held the story of Southlands’ Methodist heritage in several practical ways, helping to nurture a flourishing college community. This has included the provision of pastoral and bereavement support, sending regular messages (via social media) to the college community relating to religious festivals, marking significant moments in the pandemic, and offering special resources from the Methodist Church (e.g. a ‘drop the debt’ campaign). Our Chaplains have also been a voice and witness within the college and university community to demonstrate care for our planet and the promotion of ethical and Fairtrade products.
- The Coexist Café is a space for discussion that moved from being in person to predominantly online in 2020-21. Over the year, the café facilitated 21 interfaith/inter-belief engagements between over 100 individuals, during which they explored faith and social justice themes. Through thought-provoking discussion, the forum empowered individuals to establish their place within the community as well as discerning their place in the wider world. The Coexist Café was facilitated by the Muslim Chaplain with support from our student leaders, who co-created the programme of themes and led conversations, embodying the college’s commitment to widen students’ horizons and to engage them in discussion and action on contemporary issues. The chaplaincy team hopes to reinstate the Coexist Café in a physical location on campus as soon as possible.
Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.romans 14: 19
Chaplaincy Community Worker and community living
A major contribution of the Trust was to sponsor the employment of a Chaplaincy Community Worker (CCW). The CCW role focuses on three areas of work:
- Strengthening our ecumenical relationships through supporting the running of an intentional Christian student community house (Barat House) on campus, overseen by the Digby Stuart College and Southlands College chaplains, and performing a continuing leadership role within this community
- Supporting the work of Southlands Chapel and the Southlands College team in the nurturing of community across the Southlands cohort
- Being an active member of the wider chaplaincy team
The CCW role is intended to provide the opportunity for someone to work for two or three years in a faith context to explore their own vocation, to develop their working skills, and to help boost the work of the chaplaincy.
The Barat House Ecumenical Community is supported by the Southlands Methodist Trust alongside the Society of the Sacred Heart and draws on Methodist and Roman Catholic traditions to shape the identity and practices of this residential staff and student community. During 2020-21, the community was both dispersed and gathered. Throughout this time, the CCW supported the resident students through practical and emotional challenges, and also continued a regular rhythm of life centred on prayer, social time, spiritual reflection and engagement with the wider world. Additional activities included a shared commitment to reading the bible in a year and the introduction of journaling techniques as a tool to support spiritual and vocational reflection.
Resources and mentoring for the community were provided by the Southlands and Digby Stuart College Chaplains, who created an interactive online resource and offered regular one-to-one meetings with student members of the community.
Nurturing alumni relationships
Important to the development of a meaningful college community is the work done at Southlands to sustain relationships with past staff and students.
Along with the college and the Southlands Methodist Trust, the university’s alumni and development staff teams dedicate resources to programmes and events with this in mind. Through and alongside these, the college focuses its energies on sustaining links with the dispersed Southlands community – which still extends to those who attended the college in the 1930s – in ways that celebrate and nurture the nature and quality of the community itself.
2020-21 was a challenging year for the college in engaging with its alumni, with the majority of gathered events being impossible. A number of small alumni reunions had been planned and were due to be facilitated by the college for groups who wished to meet here, but none could in fact meet. However, members of these groups remain in contact with us and we plan to support their reunions in the coming years as society opens up more after the series of nationwide lockdowns.
Despite the restrictions, during 2020-21 we continued to make contact with alumni proactively through a number of means. In January 2020, the college, with the support of the SMT, published its alumni magazine, The Southlander. This is sent to past students, staff and Fellows and provides space for the college to connect with that group, inform them about life at Southlands today, and encourage them to continue to support us in any way they can.
During the year, initial plans were made for the 150th anniversary of the founding of the college, which will be celebrated in the summer of 2022. Ideas include academic conferences, exhibitions, dinners and other collaborative ventures. They also feature a major alumni reunion in July 2022, which will be supported and resourced by both the university and the SMT.
A loyal friend is like a safe shelter;sirach 6: 14
find one, and you have found a treasure.
Managing college archives
The Southlands Methodist Trust retains ownership of the historical archives of Southlands College, which are housed in the college. The archive contains documents and artefacts relating to the history of the college, including a large array of student work dating back to the college’s establishment.
During the reporting year, the Trust continued to employ a part-time Archivist to maintain, develop and facilitate use of the college archive. It is made accessible to the wider public through the Archivist’s work in answering individual requests and developing an online database of materials.
The Trust also continued to support small grants through the Head of College to acquire relevant additions to the archive (such as images and books concerning the historical life of the college) and to protect and display a range of pictures and artefacts from the archive. These illustrate the history of the college and bring it to life for those staff and students who currently occupy it. This work will continue in the coming year.
Although the archive itself was closed to visitors for significant periods in 2020-21, the Archivist was able to return to work for much of the year, in which work to catalogue and promote the archive continued, especially on college media platforms. A number of historic portraits of former senior figures associated with the college were removed from the archive, restored and brought into the main part of the college.
In addition to this, and as part of the archive’s work to ensure that records of the continuing life of the college today are kept for future generations, a new portrait of a former Deputy Principal, Prof. Marilyn Holness, OBE, was acquired and framed, to be added to the college walls. This was done to mark Marilyn’s inclusion in the Southbank exhibition, Phenomenal Women: Portraits of UK Black Female Professors and as part of the college’s wider project of ensuring the images on our walls reflect fully the diversity of our community, past and present.
Enhancing Methodist Education
Southlands College places the University of Roehampton at the heart of the Methodist Church’s national and international educational networks. Important to the work of the Trust is to nurture new, generative projects and workstreams that bring benefit to the college, the university and to the wider Church.
Southlands is a key member of both the Methodist-related Theological Schools in Europe (MTSE) and the International Association of Methodist-related Schools, Colleges and Universities (IAMSCU). These involvements provide the college and university with access into a family of institutions from which mutual support and collaborative ventures emerge. In the UK, Southlands College works closely with a range of educational partners and especially the British Methodist Schools groups, which include Methodist Academies and Schools Trust (MAST), Methodist Independent Schools Trust (MIST), the Methodist Schools Committee (MSC) and the Methodist Education Round Table.
In an academic year defined by COVID-19 and its effects around the globe, our international work might have been expected to suffer. It is true that we have not easily been able to meet fellow Methodist educators in person. Nevertheless, we have remained busy and active, maintaining links with our partners and planning for the new world that emerges post-pandemic.
It is our duty to contemplate what [God] has wrought, and to understand as much of it as we are able.john wesley
Methodist schools in Britain
Southlands continues to work with Methodist primary and secondary schools across Britain, which this year saw the publication of a major new strategy document for the Methodist Church in Britain, laying out its vision for education in the coming decade.
Southlands College and the University of Roehampton are identified as key in the development and implementation of this new strategy and the Head of Southlands College provides important links between Higher Education and Methodist Schools, acting as Trustee of Methodist Academies and Schools Trust (MAST) and a member of the Methodist Schools Committee, which wrote the strategy.
During 2020-21, the Southlands Methodist Trust continued to offer a significant grant to MAST to support its staffing and work; this has resulted in a commitment to ensure an increasingly close collaboration between Southlands and the work of Methodist Education more broadly. Despite the challenges of lockdown and distance learning, these collaborations continued to expand, including the provision of sessions on Methodist education as part of student training for teaching in church schools; the provision of online training and development sessions for Roehampton students alongside Methodist teachers and the contribution of Roehampton academics to the provision of those sessions; and the contribution by MAST staff to the delivery of sessions for Education students by the Free Church Education Committee.
Mrs Barbara Easton, the Head of Service for Methodist Schools and a valued colleague of the college was elected in July 2020 as the Vice-President of the Methodist Conference to serve for the year 2021-22. This is the highest office in the Methodist Church in Britain open to lay people and is a validation of the hard work and passionate commitment Barbara has shown for a distinctive Methodist contribution to education. It places Methodist Education, and Southlands College, at the heart of the Methodist consciousness. Barbara will continue to work with Southlands during her Vice-Presidential year, including in the celebration of the college’s 150th anniversary.
Higher and further education
As well as continuing to work with partners across Europe through its active involvement in the association of Methodist-related Theological Schools in Europe (MTSE), Southlands College has taken a leading role in drawing together all those adult educational institutions and heritage bodies that relate to Methodism in Britain and Ireland.
In collaboration with the leaders in the British and Irish Methodist Connexions, Southlands convened an initial online gathering of senior leaders from representatives of nearly all such institutions, chaired by the Revd Dr Tim Macquiban, who is also chair of the SMT.
The result of this extremely positive meeting was the decision to continue to build closer relationships that will benefit us all and allow the distinctive Wesleyan voice to be heard in higher education discussions across these islands. The bringing together of this group is one outcome of a close working relationship with the Methodist Church’s central administrative and education teams and will help to demonstrate the value and resources that the college offers into the wider learning life of the Methodist Church. In turn, this will build stronger bilateral and multi-lateral relationships that will support Roehampton’s sustainability through institutional educational and research partnerships, student recruitment and profile-building.
The first in-person gathering of this network, to be hosted by Southlands and with the support of a grant from the SMT, will take place in the Autumn of 2021.
Europe and worldwide
The restrictions on international travel caused by the pandemic have generated creative thinking about how we maintain and nurture relationships across borders.
The Board of IAMSCU, of which the Head of College is a Director, has continued to meet online, which has allowed for a fuller attendance due to the lack of need for visas and airfares. This development has enabled more active involvement from colleagues in the Global Majority world, and their presence has reminded us of the continuing challenges of global inequality that affect education in every part of the world.
The IAMSCU Board of Directors issued a Common Statement on the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the important research going on in Methodist-related medical schools and hospitals around the world, and re-committing all its members to the ongoing battle for equality, justice and solidarity. As part of that commitment, the Southlands Methodist Trust has agreed for funds to be released to develop a range of scholarships that will be aimed at providing opportunities for global engagement for students who would otherwise be prevented from accessing this reach. We are very excited that the launch of these awards will form part of our celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the college in 2022.
This year saw the Southlands College team, the Susanna Wesley Foundation and our Trustees begin planning work for events to commemorate Southlands College’s 150th anniversary from the perspective of our educational partnerships. Alongside the range of UK-focused activities, we are delighted that our work with the University of Roehampton International Office has produced a new fee reduction for international students coming from Methodist-related institutions. This will make international study not only more attractive but also more accessible in the future.
The Southlands Methodist Trust agreed last year to inaugurate the Susanna Wesley Visiting Fellowship only to be hit by COVID-19 before the first Fellow could be appointed. We are now planning to welcome our first Visiting Fellow in the coming academic year, as part of the Southland 150 celebrations.
In 2022, Southlands College will celebrate both its 150th anniversary and also 25 years at its present site on Roehampton Lane.
During 2020-21, members of the college team, Trustees of the Southlands Methodist Trust and University of Roehampton Professional Services staff came together to begin a detailed planning process for work to mark this special anniversary.
Resources were allocated for a range of activities and programmes across educational, research and sustainability areas, with the goal of involving a diverse mix of students and staff from the college and university and bringing in wider communities from the local area, from university partners and from Methodist-related institutions in the UK and overseas.
Celebrating our history and planning for our future
Significant resource commitments were made during this planning process to establish a rich programme that will include:
- A major academic and practitioner conference on the theme of sustainability
- An educational programme focused on London-based Methodist heritage for leaders and students from Methodist-related institutions overseas
- Celebratory events, including alumni reunions, gala dinners and the bestowing of honorary College Fellowships
- An education-focused day, including a Vice-Presidential visitation, showcasing education research and launching new student scholarships
- Curating a number of exhibitions that celebrate the college’s history and explore its current and future work
- Marking the 150th anniversary at the Methodist Conference
- Re-establishing the Susanna Wesley Visiting Fellowship, inviting overseas scholars from Methodist-related institutions to become part of the Roehampton community
- Establishing a large number of new student scholarships and bursaries that encourage young people to become Roehampton students, and Roehampton students to expand their global reach
- Developing a series of proposals for Methodist-related honorary doctoral awards for consideration by the university’s relevant committees
- Publishing a new book about the recent history of Southlands, told primarily through the voices of our students as recorded in the college archives
- Establishing new ways of showcasing research funded by the Southlands Methodist Trust, to expand its reach and impact
Recruitment, Fundraising and Development:
- Expanding our recruitment from global Methodism by launching discounted fees on university programmes for students coming to Roehampton from Methodist-related institutions overseas
- Launching a new development programme to help support our vision for the future of Southlands College
During 2021-22, the delivery of these various streams of activity will be a major focus of the college’s work and of the activity of the SMT.
Reimagining our college buildings for a sustainable future
Planning for the college’s 150th anniversary during 2020-21 included the appointment by the university of a specialist consultant to review the present Southlands College buildings.
Working with the various college communities, including several Trustees of the SMT and the Head of College, a proposal was formed that aims to reimagine how Southlands can be further developed as a place and space that significantly enhances the learning environment and offers greater sustainability (in all definitions of that word) for the future.
The proposal is underpinned by four key educational commitments; these emerge from the Methodist Church’s mission and values, the historical work of Southlands College, and the modern-day work and vision of the University of Roehampton.
Education as community
A commitment to creating permeable spaces where the boundaries between student and student, between student and staff, and between staff and staff are removed, and ways of working are radically reshaped to ensure all are brought together in one, fully inclusive environment. This involves breaking down (literally) the barrier between college and community; opening up Southlands College to the community; and providing creative and collaborative spaces that engage students with the outside world and with one another.
Education as service
A commitment to reshaping the world around us through helping to shape leaders of the future; encouraging students to hold values of commitment to improve the world around them; and engaging in key social justice issues.
Education as formation
A commitment to becoming a rounded person with a strong set of values who has a rich engagement with the creative, physical, mindful and spiritual aspects of life. This involves the holding together of spaces for learning, for exploring, for music and creativity, for sports, for prayer, for worship and spiritual engagement, and for well-being activities.
Education for sustainability
A commitment to creating a sustainable learning environment that will accommodate the evolving needs of those who use, manage and fund buildings in efficient, effective and environmentally friendly ways. This involves facilitating positive social interaction; building friendships; encouraging social inclusion; developing trust and reinforcing civic identity and pride; and instilling environmentally sustainable behaviours through user training and mindfulness.
Key practical aims from the proposal include:
- Significant enhancements to teaching spaces to address the needs of a growing Faculty of Business and Law that is focused on practices connected to social responsibility
- Reorienting the college buildings to face the local community, thus offering the chance for a more permeable boundary; encouraging knowledge exchange between the university and our local communities; and providing spaces for key local facilities, social enterprise and start-up hubs
- Creating larger and more collaborative spaces to reduce the boundaries between staff and students, between students and students, and between all members of our community
- Increasing and improving resources for commuting students to enable their better inclusion in the life of the college and to enhance engagement in university activity amongst students from traditionally under-represented communities.
- Offering improved spaces for activity that nurtures human flourishing beyond the core university activities of teaching and learning
- Reducing staff dependency on offices and handing over spaces to our student communities to offer flexible and social learning facilities
Working closely together, staff from Southlands College and the university’s development team refined this proposal with the oversight of the SMT. It will become a focus in 2021-22 for the university’s fundraising and development strategy, and Trustees of the SMT will work in parallel with university colleagues to promote and enable that fundraising exercise to ensure wider church networks in particular are harnessed to enhance the project.
Saving Mount Clare Temple
The Methodist Church owns the freehold of the Mount Clare Estate, which is leased to the University of Roehampton, an arrangement overseen by the Trustees of the SMT. The estate includes a Grade 1 listed house, mid-20th century student accommodation for nearly 200 students, and a Grade 2* listed Doric temple.
The temple is thought to have been built in the 1760s or 1770s and designed by Sir William Chambers. It is small but remarkable, a pioneer building in a period when Greek forms were very slow to catch on in English architecture. Of particular note is the temple’s painted ceiling: it is an elegant, neo-classical design and an artistic achievement of considerable refinement and delicacy.
The Mount Clare Temple has been on the ‘Heritage at Risk’ register since the estate was purchased by the Church. Before then, it had experienced major damage both from environmental factors and from vandalism.
Many of its more precious decorative features were stolen or destroyed and the ceiling had suffering from years of neglect. In recent years, the Trust and the university have both invested significant funds and efforts to protect and preserve the temple from further damage. However, while the security of the temple has been achieved, attempts to raise sufficient funds for significant restoration work have been unsuccessful.
During the reporting year, however, new grant funding was secured by the Trust to take a significant step forward in the SMT’s aim of protecting the temple and enabling its use as a local tool for community engagement and learning. This grant has now been combined with funds committed by the SMT and, during the spring of 2021, the Trustees commissioned specialist heritage architects and stone masons to perform a detailed survey of the building. This will provide assessments of the work needed to begin a comprehensive protection and restoration project. This development was coordinated, facilitated and supported jointly by staff of Southlands College, the SMT and the University of Roehampton estates team.
In the coming year, the Trustees hope to receive this report in full and to begin commissioning aspects of the work identified in it, up to the cost of the funds available. The hope is that work will start in the spring and summer of 2022. The Trustees will continue to explore future grant options to raise further funds to continue the restoration of the temple.
In order to increase local interest and engagement in the restoration project, outreach activities will be organised during the coming year, especially including local youth groups that meet in the adjacent community centre. A social media fundraising campaign will also be launched to raise further capital.
Rev Dr Tim Macquiban (Chair)
Rev Dr Jennifer Smith (Deputy Chair)
Rev Dr Stan Brown
Rev Dr Joanne Cox-Darling
Mr Alan Davies (appointed October 2020)
Rev Geoffrey Farrar (appointed March 2021)
Dr Clive Norris
Rev Colin Smith
Rev Michaela Youngson (resigned June 2021)
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