Pause/Move on.

Breathe in.

Breathe Out.

“We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.”

Richard Rohr

All Will Be Well

Today saw our ‘All Will Be Well’ artwork rolled-up and removed from the front of St Peter’s House. It has been strange and sad watching people stop, read and photograph the towering message this past week, knowing it was already speaking to the new students on campus, and knowing too that the message would soon be gone. By lunchtime today, there was just a blank space.

This is bad optics for a place of faith, hope and love. Doesn’t it say that we got it all wrong? That it turned out that All Was Very Much Not Well? It looks and feels bad. It feels like public shame on Monday morning. 

Three years ago, during lockdown, I was shielding at home – following the disconcerting news from Matt Hancock that I was “vulnerable”. During this time, for a month or so, I shielded alone. It was a time of paradox – of solitude and finding myself unexpectedly sustained by Love. An empty, barren time that transformed into a garden of healing.  This is how it feels, I thought, to fall and to find that you are held.

During that time I read and connected with the writing of the woman known as Julian of Norwich. I found a kind of soul-sister. She too lived through plague times, she suffered various afflictions, and she sequestered herself, her pain, wisdom and joy away. She had powerful mystical visions, which led to her writing the first known book in English by a woman: ‘Revelations of Divine Love’. Within this she described her understanding of the Divine Feminine, setting out her understanding of God as the goodness in all things: “Jesus answered with these words, saying: ‘All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

Around this time, the images and headlines about the impact of lockdown on students were also becoming prevalent. Other local and coordinated resources (the Food Banks and other brilliant community projects) were stretched to the limit – and we knew we could offer something distinctive, practical, holistic and rooted in faith to play a part in responding to widening food injustice.

I returned to Julian, using ‘The Well’ as both a statement of hope and a metaphor for somewhere the community gathers to draw nourishment. Over the coming years we provided ten, thirty, fifty then over seventy thousand meals to folks who have helped us co-create the model. We’re a small charity, and so were able to be quick and responsive. Meals not suitable for an autistic person led to pick-n-mix trays… comments that the meals were too European led to a wider range of recipes (although we always struggled with diverse ingredients from Fareshare)… disordered eating led to bespoke meal plans.

Even in the quiet of lockdown, The Well brought chaplaincy to life with faith, hope and love – and as we sought funding year-on-year and the project extended, we found The Well community migrated between Milk & Honey, our Wholeness work and pastoral conversations. In other words, they found they belonged and discovered they were loved. Maybe they felt that this is how it feels to fall, and to find that you are held. 

We don’t know the end of Julian’s story. She certainly couldn’t have imagined that we’d be thinking about her today as we remove the words she shared from St Peter’s House. “All shall we well” came to her as words of Jesus – for some the ultimate example of fluidity and flow, feminine and masculine, Divine and earthly, spiritual whilst transcending all of these binaries at the same time. We’ve displayed this mystical and countercultural understanding of ‘Well’ for three years – as a tangible artwork and with practical action – and I believe the message lives on. 

So, what then of our now-blank building? Perhaps the public shame of erasure and defeat. Maybe you’re wondering if we still believe that All Will Be Well, or if our team are glad the embarrassing reminder is now gone. When I began to write about ‘The Well’ I wrote that ‘well’ does not mean ‘ok’, or ‘as we want things to be’, or even ‘fine, in the bigger picture.’ We don’t always know the end of the story, and to protect ourselves from loss would mean to never love at all. Living ‘All Will Be Well’ is a practice and has been a privilege. And sometimes it might just mean letting go, and finding that we’re all still held.

You can read more about the impact of The Well and how it has affected the lives of some of those who have joined our community on our website.


To access support with food injustice or ongoing food insecurity please head to the University websites, where student hardship funds and food vouchers are available. More details are available on each University’s website:

University of Manchester Student Support

Manchester Metropolitan Student Support Funds


You can also access support via the Trussell Trust’s ‘Help Through Hardship’ helpline  Manchester City Council’s ‘Support if You’re in Financial Difficulty’ pages.


If you’d like a conversation for further signposting, please get in touch with us – we’re still here for now.

All Will Be Well artwork by Micah Purnell

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