John Philips

Here is an extract of a Conversation Dave Lackner-Smith had with former resident John Phillips on a social media website. John stayed at Sanctuary Halsall House for
just over 6 months in 1995. and came back on four other occasions.


John Philips

Hey David You may not remember me. I used to live at The Sanctuary Trust in Rochdale numerous years ago. Looking back at those times fills me with joy and sadness. The joy is meeting the staff at the sanctuary and knowing that they would be there for you no matter what and the sadness at the fact of being in such a bad way at the time.
 I treated the staff nice but I was not exactly going with the programme. I remember all the bad I did and looking back now with the insight of being drug free after trying for so many years fills me with regret but believe it or not I did take a lot on board. I wanted to tell you that from the beginning to the end of my drug addiction you were a great person to talk to and wish I had listened a lot more at the time. You always had a good word to say and did and I know still will be doing a great job at the Sanctuary. So ultimately what I am saying is You, Sheila, Richard and all the staff at the sanctuary keep up the amazing work you do and take care.

David Lackner-Smith

Hi John, Of course I remember you -HOW COULD i EVER FORGET!! Glad to hear you are drug free. Life is good on the straight with plenty of highs on the natch (to coin a phrase from the poem The Perfect High). I have told Richard and spoke to Sheila last week - although she has now retired from the work. The work here at Sanctuary continues even though we have just lost £500,000 in funding during the last year. But as always the money is only a means to a more sustainable service and the work will always carry on whilst I'm alive. I would love to publish your story on our website to give others hope. Would you be willing to write a few lines of how your life was and what the best thing about sobriety is?

John Phillips

I would love to. In the throes of drug use my life was chaotic to say the least. It was all about chasing the next high, whether that meant soft or hard drugs. Nothing came in the way of my next fix even to the point of losing very special people to me. I remember always thinking that at any point I could just stop and it wouldn't be so bad. Anyway I ended up stopping 2 times. The pull was always there; 1 year down the line I was doing it again. The turnaround came in 2002 when I collapsed where I was living and was taken to hospital where much to my surprise I was told I was Diabetic and would be Insulin dependent for the rest of my life. The drug team who I was under prescribed me Lofexidine which helped me through my withdrawals and I was soon on the way to what I can only describe as freedom, another chance if you will. Everything has changed, I feel awake , everything is so much brighter and the best thing about it all is I found the love of my life. I will never again feel like I have to be something I am not. Thanks for listening David. I would love to know if you could tell me anything about how John G is doing for himself. Not where he is, just how he is. He still pops in my mind now and again and I just want to know he is well. Thanks again David.


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John Priestly


Sanctuary Trust works with homelessness and homeless related poverty and emergency homeless issues. God's Sanctuary was the vision of Sheila Halsall after seeing the level of homelessness Rochdale and later the homelessness Conwy and the substance misuse such as Drugs and Alcohol. By Providing emergency shelter for the homeless in supported housing services funded mainly through Supporting People we assist other providers such as Shelter homelessness, Petrus and Stepping Stones who are also supporting people through women's and men's hostels and floating support. We also have a Nightstop (crash pad). With our work in Wales we partner with Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) as they provide financial help for homeless through emergency shelter and their Supporting People funds. There are different kinds of accommodation available but what is needed is good quality supported accommodation with a strong business and development plan. We have also provided consultancy service to help others move closer to an answer to homelessness. Our social enterprise company, Sanctuary Trust Enterprises runs Noah's Ark Play Centre, The Storehouse Charity Shop.