At the lowest point in his life, John Priestley was homeless on the streets of Rochdale. Now, he's a key player at the National Football Museum.
When visiting the National Football Museum in Manchester, families and fans might well be greeted, given directions or led through a show by John, an enthusiastic and outgoing volunteer. Few would guess the extraordinary journey that brought the 60-year-old here.
In winter 2015, a cocktail of financial difficulties, stress and anxiety led to John losing his home. He spent a number of weeks moving between different friends’ sofas and spare rooms, before his luck ran out and he ended up on the streets. “It is the worst I’ve been,” John confesses, sat on the bench in Rochdale where he found himself sleeping. “I sat here, and I don’t mind saying, I prayed.”
Change of fortune
Fortunately for John, one night he was taken in by a stranger, who gave him a roof to sleep under, and took him to a shelter the next day. Thankfully, John’s fortunes began to change.
He began to socialise more. A friend suggested he take part in the National Lottery-funded ‘Improving Futures: Volunteering for Wellbeing’ project and the rest, as they say, is history.
“Volunteering has given me all kinds of life skills”, John said. “My confidence is sky-high. I’ve gone from zero to hero.”
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