New urban retreat with on-site healing sanctuary to open at Gorton Monastery

Gorton Monastery
'There has been nothing like this before, yet an urgent and growing need. It will be a place where people can come and be welcomed and not judged'
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A Sanctuary of Peace and Healing will open at the Monastery in Gorton, Manchester to mark the 25th anniversary of the Charitable Trust.

In addition to everything else the Monastery already provides, from Sunday 19th September, the Monastery will also provide a permanent modern-day urban retreat, with an on-site healing sanctuary that provides a quiet place to escape from the hustle, bustle and strain of daily life. 

This pioneering new service, heralded as a game changer in supporting people with mental health issues, has been co-created by the Trust’s team and in-house psychologist and psychotherapist, in an effort to plug a gap in resources for those needing a place to come and be heard.

The Sanctuary will offer free counselling and listening services, will open every Sunday to Thursday with an hour’s silence from 12 noon. Slots need to be booked via The Monastery’s website, but there will also be group drop-in sessions on Tuesdays.

The Sanctuary spaces are located in the Old Refectory, former Pantry and heritage corner of The Monastery, where the Franciscan Brothers have fed, supported and looked after the local community since Victorian times.

There will also be a community café and an area for wellbeing activities. 

The Listening Service is an inclusive, friendly space for anyone that wants an ear, whether that’s to talk through plans, problems or just ponder.

The highly trained listeners will be available five days a week. They can guide people to further offerings at the Monastery and free counselling both here and around the city. 

Initially there will be 15 listeners, aged from their 20s to 70s, all providing their time voluntarily and trained at the Manchester Counselling Training College in Moss Side, with more being recruited over the coming months.

Set up as a pilot project to support people in a post COVID world, the project has been supported by a grant from The Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage.

This innovative service is breaking new ground in its approach to supporting people in need.

“We offer a place to talk, where people can go within the secular society,” said co-founder of The Sanctuary of Peace and Healing, psychologist Dr Jeannine Goh.

“There is a desperate need for this kind of initiative. Being heard at an early stage is so important.”

Charmain Berry, a psychotherapist and co-founder of the Sanctuary added: “We have designed a joined-up holistic approach to healing which can lead to activities such as singing and gardening and skills-based training courses.

“The Silence which will take place at noon every day from Sunday – Thursday, along with the listening service, is the cornerstone of what we offer.

“Silence and listening can transform people’s lives.”

Elaine Griffiths, chief executive of The Monastery said: “Being able to use the powerful heritage and healing energy of the Monastery’s sacred site is one of the most important aspects of our work. 

“So after 25 years we are delighted to be launching the Sanctuary to further enhance the Trust’s long-held ambition to be a ‘Modern Day’ Monastery supporting the needs of our wider community.

“The Sanctuary was initially set up in memory of the late Professor Aidan Halligan who brought the Well North initiative to the Monastery many years ago. The Sanctuary fits his vision and our shared ethos perfectly.

“We are delighted to mark this important milestone, this is the Monastery’s gift to the city.”

“What Jeannine and Charmain are creating is truly unique. There has been nothing like this before, yet an urgent and growing need.

“It will be a place where people can come and be welcomed and not judged.

“There are times in all of our lives when we need someone to really listen to us. Just being heard can be incredibly healing.

“The Silence is something that can benefit us all. How long you stay is up to you. Stay for ten minutes or the full hour – whatever slots best into your life. 

“Silence is a wonderful tonic for the brain, for the soul and for the self. This time is a gift to you, a time to relax and nourish yourself.

“Some people take the time to pray or meditate. We are not proposing a particular path. However, we do know that silence can be incredibly healing and powerful.”

The Sanctuary also plans to provide a range of free workshops including an anxiety and depression drop in session, empowerment group addressing domestic violence, a mother’s empowerment group and working with trauma in the black African community workshop. The free workshops can be booked by emailing sanamiqbal87@outlook.com or calling 07849 028906. For more information and to book a slot with the counselling or listening service visit themonastery.co.uk.  

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