Gary & Hannah Bishop moved to Manchester from Brighton in 2000 to set up and lead the Eden project in Openshaw, east Manchester. Living in the heart of the Toxteth Street estate and through their work with the community they encountered many people for whom drug and alcohol addiction were a way of life. They built relationships with a group of such people and helped them to access treatment services by providing support before, during and after treatment, using their home as a place of refuge.
Jason was one of the people they met during this time. After a long, wretched battle with heroin addiction Jason found himself in prison and after a 6 months stretch he landed back on Gary & Hannahs doorstep looking fit and healthy, declaring himself drug free and in search of a different life. He searched for stability in all the usual ways; searching for accommodation, looking for work and finding appropriate healthcare . However, all Jason’s best efforts left him jobless, desperate and living in Gransmoor Avenue; a notorious street comprising 8 large Victorian terraced houses which are home to around 60 drug and alcohol dependent adults. Just a few weeks later Jason was found dead after taking a heroin overdose.
Following this tragedy Gary started a daily routine of walking the few hundred metres from his house to Gransmoor Avenue at lunchtime everyday to reflect on a life lost, to pray and in the hope of meeting someone who would open a door to this hostile and intimidating community but after several weeks of watching and waiting no-one approached him or questioned his presence. However, a few months later a different kind of opening came along; in a chance conversation over the yard wall with a local councillor about Gransmoor Gary and Hannah were invited to submit any suggestions they had regarding the regeneration of Gransmoor Avenue. Within a few weeks a proposal was written which involved many different partners working together to offer a new future to the current residents, to renovate the houses and keep them as a valuable part of the community and to create a mixed community including a small recovery community for people like Jason.
In Autumn 2008 discussions took flight with Manchester City Council and at this point is was necessary to create an entity which could legitimately enter into discussions and negotiations and so the Justlife Community Interest Company was born, Gary & Hannah were the founding directors and their vision was to see hope restored to places like Gransmoor Avenue.