John Priestly

The Sanctuary Trust opened new doors for me"

John Priestly, Former resident at The Sanctuary Trust


John Priestly first sought the help of the Sanctuary Trust, a move that would see him gain control of his life and spark the start of a new journey. "The Sanctuary Trust was heaven compared to the streets, warm food, shelter, and most importantly - someone that truly cared," reflects John. 

Whilst families were gathered in Rochdale Town Centre to celebrate switching on the Christmas lights in 2015, John was spending his evening searching for discarded food through bins. An image that starkly contrasts to the festivities being shared by members of the community. It was this cold evening where John was first introduced to the Sanctuary Trust by a "perfect stranger" - the actions of whom would change his life forever, and see John embark on the first step to turning his life around.

Despite facing a number of struggles throughout his life, such as the loss of his mother, John credits the work of the Sanctuary Trust with helping him to gain his freedom back from the tight grasp that homelessness had on his life. At this time, John's confidence was at rock bottom and having amassed significant debt after being unable to keep up with rental payments after the passing of his mother, John was at a difficult crossroads in his life.

Support came from the Sanctuary Trust and after spending three weeks in the emergency night shelter, the team moved John into its supported housing project, Halsall House. It's here where John's life started to change for the better, the team at Halsall house worked with John by training him in a number of subjects such as, positive thinking, healthy relationships, how to manage physical health, healthy eating, taking responsibility, understanding housing responsibilities, housing options, money management and how to set goals. The team then helped John identify two goals per week to help him rebuild his confidence and put the wheels in motion for a new start for John. 

After three months at Halsall House, the Sanctuary Trust referred John to an external agency that offered volunteer opportunities. John flourished from here, he started to talk with people and develop his external support network. In building John's confidence and giving him the helping hand he needed, John was recently ready to move into his own flat with additional floating support being provided by the Sanctuary Trust. A move that has given a much needed boost to John after a difficult few years.

It's humbling stories like John's that inspire our vision, that push the Sanctuary Trust team forward with their determination to make a difference. If you'd like to help us in the invaluable work we do for people like John, we'd love to hear from you. Donations can be made by clicking here and to learn about volunteer opportunities please contact Mick Kinsella - [email protected] tel 01706 345017.


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 STEP Emergency overnight provision. 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.