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Escaping from feeling trapped

by Claire Law

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To explore what it’s like when we feel trapped and what support is available.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (Trapped) and the means to display them.


  1. Have Slide 1 showing as the students arrive.

  2. Show Slide 2.

    Ask the students to raise their hand if they have ever visited an escape room.

    Ask the following questions.

    - Did you enjoy it?
    - Did you manage to get out in time?
    - Did any of you end up trapped inside after the time was up?

  3. Explain that escape room games have quickly become a popular entertainment experience in the UK in recent years. Participants pay to solve clues and puzzle their way out of a confined space in a limited amount of time. Many people enjoy visiting with friends and working as a team.

  4. There are several reasons why these escape room games might be so popular. Theres the fun of taking part in activities with friends and the challenge of solving the puzzles. Theres also something thrilling about the race against the clock and the threat of being locked in if you don’t escape in time.

  5. However, for some people, being trapped is not just a bit of fun.

    Show Slide 3.

    Being trapped in real life can be a traumatic experience. In June 2018, news channels around the world reported on the efforts to rescue 12 boys and their football coach, who were trapped inside caves in Thailands Chiang Rai province. The group were deep inside a cave system when heavy rains caused flooding, cutting them off and trapping them, without food, approximately four kilometres from the cave’s entrance. It took 18 days to bring all of the members of the group to safety, although sadly, one of the rescue divers, Saman Gunan, died during the recovery mission.

  6. Show Slide 4.

    A similar accident in 2010 saw 33 Chilean miners survive a 69-day ordeal of being trapped underground. Although these miners made it to physical safety, many still suffer psychological distress from this traumatic experience.

  7. Encourage the students to think about some of the other ways in which we might experience being trapped.

    Show Slide 5.

    Research has indicated that young people across the UK are at risk of being trapped or stuck indoors, spending increasing amounts of time inside rather than outside in nature. In recent years, children in the UK have been encouraged to put down their game controllers and escape outside, where outdoor play offers freedom and space and encourages movement. However, plenty of parents fear letting their children play outside because of traffic and other perceived dangers.

  8. Sadly, many people in our world - including in our country and community - are trapped by poverty. Some families in our area face the difficult choice of heating or eating: should they spend the limited money they have on heating the house to stay warm or on feeding the family? It can feel like there is no escape and no hope for the future when you don’t have enough money to meet your basic needs.

    Show Slide 6.

    Charities often support people in this position. For example, there are food banks in many UK communities, which help to supply food parcels to those who need them most. In this way, they can provide at least a short-term escape from the hopelessness of hunger and poverty.

  9. For some of us, it is not a physical space that traps us. Depression, anxiety and other mental health issues can lead to people feeling like prisoners, trapped by their thoughts and emotions. Likewise, many people feel under pressure from the expectations of others, with the ‘ought to’ and the ‘should do’ leading them to feel trapped. Addiction, too, can lead to people feeling trapped. They feel that they have no escape from their cravings or from the pain that the addiction tries to block out.

  10. So, although escape rooms can be fun, the real experience of being trapped – whether literally, psychologically or financially – can be very frightening.

    Lets think about things that offer hope and a way out for many.

  11. As we have already noted, lots of charities support people in need. For example, there are the food banks that we mentioned earlier, which offer support to people in financial need. Our local food bank is situated at X (insert name).

  12. Show Slide 7.

    Also, perhaps you’ve heard of the Samaritans. Its a charity that offers a listening service to people who feel that they have no hope left.

  13. Show Slide 8.

    A similar service, specifically for young people, is Papyrus.

  14. Explain that there are also plenty of people in school who can support anyone who feels trapped, or feels as if there is no escape from what they might be experiencing.

    Refer to your school’s pastoral support service.

  15. Show Slide 9.

    For many people, belief and faith support them through difficult times. For the Thai footballers who were trapped in the cave, their Buddhist faith helped them to use meditation as a means of staying calm.

    The Qur’an includes the verse, ‘I take refuge with the Lord of the dawn’ (Surah 113.1), which reminds Muslims that God protects and rescues.

    For Christians, trusting in Jesus is believed to provide an escape from sin and death, with the promise of heaven. For many people, time spent in prayer offers a chance to feel a sense of peace and release from their burdens.

  16. Show Slide 10.

    Some of these ideas are expressed in a popular prayer that is known as the Serenity Prayer, which was written by Reinhold Niebuhr, an American theologian. The prayer reminds us to persevere in difficult times, but also to find peace and escape through acceptance.

    ‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
    Courage to change the things I can;
    And wisdom to know the difference.’

Time for reflection

Let’s take a moment to reflect upon what being trapped might mean for us today: for people around the world; for people in our own communities; and for people here, for ourselves. Let’s take a moment to be still, bow our heads and pause to reflect on what we’ve heard today.

Pause to allow time for thought.

We think especially of people who are physically trapped in traumatic and difficult situations.

Pause to allow time for thought.

We think, too, about people trapped by poverty.

Pause to allow time for thought.

We think about people who feel psychologically trapped, who are depressed and feel like there is no hope.

Pause to allow time for thought.

We think about those individuals, charities and organizations who offer support and a chance to escape.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Dear Lord,
We ask you to bless us today.
It can be so hard to trust and have hope when we are frightened, and when there seems to be no escape.
We ask for faith and courage to make steps towards hope.
Help us to be a positive support to others in need, to notice and help others.
Help us to ask for help when we need the support of others.
We pray, too, for people who are involved in supporting others:
Give them strength, wisdom and compassion.

Publication date: March 2020   (Vol.22 No.3)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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