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Archbishop of Canterbury gives his blessing to Ashford College

Students and staff had a reason to come into College despite it being the Easter half term - getting to meet the Archbishop of Canterbury!

The Most Reverend Justin Welby visited Ashford College on Wednesday, April 13 to get an insight into life as a student. The tour saw the Church of England leader meeting the Student Union and learners from a number of different departments.

He also met some of the College's ESOL students, some of whom had come from Afghanistan following the war and were now finding their feet in their new homes.

Sharing laughs and stories, the Archbishop said he was struck by the atmosphere, enthusiasm and community spirit he saw in everyone at the College.

He said: "I'd say I'm really struck by how outward looking the College is. There's an awful lot of people doing things in the wider community which is one of the things that particularly strikes me as exciting and motivating. There's a real commitment to the community here.

“Meeting the Kent Refugee Action Network and talking to the two students who have come from such difficult places and have found a place of healing was incredible.

“The people here at Ashford College have a real passion and sense of ownership in what they are doing and achieving.

“Overall I’ve really been struck by the stories I’ve heard today and would like to thank the College for welcoming me so warmly.”

He also spoke to the students and staff about his struggles with mental health, noting the importance of finding people to open up with and the need to find communities with whom the students could be themselves.

Ashford College’s Principal Susan Bonett said: “The visit, and the students’ preparation for it, was truly inspiring. He took the time to engage with the students he met, to hear about their stories and the journeys that led them to our College.

“The Archbishop has an ability to take stories from around the world and make them relatable to those he was speaking with, providing insight and support into topics like mental health or the international journeys made by our students.

“We’d like to thank the Archbishop and his team for giving us so much of their time to meet our students and learn about the exciting projects we have coming up in Ashford and the wider community.”