About Us

A brief history

The information contained in this short history is taken from interviews conducted by oral historian Verusca Calabria between November 2015 and May 2016.

Read the accompanying booklet here.

  • 1920

    The Catholic Fund for Homeless and Destitute Men opens its first hostel in Holland Park.

    John is originally from Dublin and came to live in London in the 1980s. He pursued a career in the voluntary sector including housing associations and drug and alcohol services. He joined St Martins in 2003 as Chief Executive and helped bring about the modernization of the organisation, including the diversification of service provision, specialisation in forensic mental healthcare and greater service user involvement.  John talks about how St Martins involves its service users and responds to their changing needs and interests.

  • 1938

    Bishop Myers congratulates the Catholic Fund for placing 300 men in work.

    John is originally from Dublin and came to live in London in the 1980s. He pursued a career in the voluntary sector including housing associations and drug and alcohol services. He joined St Martins in 2003 as Chief Executive and helped bring about the modernization of the organisation, including the diversification of service provision, specialisation in forensic mental healthcare and greater service user involvement.  John talks about how St Martins involves its service users and responds to their changing needs and interests.

  • 1950

    To avoid closure of the Holland Park hostel, the Catholic Fund begins a long campaign of fundraising through church collections.

    John is originally from Dublin and came to live in London in the 1980s. He pursued a career in the voluntary sector including housing associations and drug and alcohol services. He joined St Martins in 2003 as Chief Executive and helped bring about the modernization of the organisation, including the diversification of service provision, specialisation in forensic mental healthcare and greater service user involvement.  John talks about how St Martins involves its service users and responds to their changing needs and interests.

  • David Bartley

    David Bartley

    Trustee of the Catholic Fund 1960s until closure. Chair of St Martin of Tours 1978-2003
    Listen to the story

    David Bartley was born in London in 1929. After the war, David trained as an electrician and joined his father’s firm. In the 1960s his firm was asked to refurbish a war-damaged chapel in Wilton Square, Islington, which used to house homeless men. That is where he met Anthony Bartlett, the founder member of the Catholic Fund for Destitute and Homeless Men (now St Martin of Tours). David, who was knighted for his services to the community, describes early fundraising efforts, dinners and dances at St Martins.

  • 1960

    The Catholic Fund buys a derelict chapel in Islington and begins converting it into another hostel called St Martin of Tours House.

    John is originally from Dublin and came to live in London in the 1980s. He pursued a career in the voluntary sector including housing associations and drug and alcohol services. He joined St Martins in 2003 as Chief Executive and helped bring about the modernization of the organisation, including the diversification of service provision, specialisation in forensic mental healthcare and greater service user involvement.  John talks about how St Martins involves its service users and responds to their changing needs and interests.

  • Andrew Wells

    Andrew Wells

    Social worker at St Martins 1978-1980 Listen to the story

    Andrew took a degree in sociology that led him to qualify as a social worker. He worked in a homeless shelter in Birmingham where he met Tim Mould, who alerted him to a new job opening at St Martins in 1978. There he met his future wife Becky, who was responsible for introducing occupational therapy at St Martins. Andrew describes the extraordinary humanity and collaboration residents showed to one another.

  • Becky Wells

    Becky Wells

    First occupational therapist at St Martins, 1978-1980 Listen to the story

    Becky Rogers trained as an occupational therapist in the 1970s at a time when the profession was relatively new and had not yet gained the status that other kinds of social work enjoyed. She became the first occupational therapist at St Martins, where she met her future husband Andrew Wells. Becky introduced therapeutic activities for the residents and explains how pioneering it was to have occupational therapy offered in a hostel at this time.

  • Annalee Curran

    Annalee Curran

    Wife of the late Martin Curran, Director at St Martins, 1975-1984
    Listen to the story

    Annalee met Martin in South Africa where he worked as a priest active in human rights work and campaigning for the African National Congress (ANC). He left the priesthood to marry Annalee but remained committed to justice and human rights. Annalee and Martin were forced to emigrate to Australia due to Martin’s connection with the ANC. They moved to England in 1975 with their three children. When Martin became Director of St Martins the organisation became an intrinsic part of their lives. Annalee brings to life some of her late husband’s many contributions to St Martins. She recalls the moment when she first pitched up at St Martins when her third child was still a babe in arms.

  • 1978

    The Catholic Fund decides that St Martins needs to become a secular housing association.

    John is originally from Dublin and came to live in London in the 1980s. He pursued a career in the voluntary sector including housing associations and drug and alcohol services. He joined St Martins in 2003 as Chief Executive and helped bring about the modernization of the organisation, including the diversification of service provision, specialisation in forensic mental healthcare and greater service user involvement.  John talks about how St Martins involves its service users and responds to their changing needs and interests.

  • Tim Mould

    Tim Mould

    Social worker at St Martins 1978-1980 Listen to the story

    Tim Mould studied for a sociology degree in the 1970s and did his social work placement at St Martins. He returned to St Martins as a qualified social worker from 1978 to 1980 during a time in which St Martins was run on therapeutic community principles under the direction of Martin Curran. Tim says what it was about the ethos at St Martins that drew him to the organisation and why he now remembers it as such a special place.

  • Ruth Curran Crawley

    Ruth Curran Crawley

    Daughter of the late Martin Curran, Director at St Martins, 1975-1984 Listen to the story

    Ruth was born in Sydney, Australia. Her parents moved to Lesotho, Devon and then London when she was still young. The oldest of three children, Ruth, her brother and sister spent much of their childhoods at St Martins, where they became a happy part of the lives of residents and staff. Ruth looks back with great fondness to the time she spent as a child visiting her Dad, his colleagues and some of the men who lived in St Martins’ hostel in Islington.

  • 1989

    St Martins begins offering accommodation for women in Archway.

    John is originally from Dublin and came to live in London in the 1980s. He pursued a career in the voluntary sector including housing associations and drug and alcohol services. He joined St Martins in 2003 as Chief Executive and helped bring about the modernization of the organisation, including the diversification of service provision, specialisation in forensic mental healthcare and greater service user involvement.  John talks about how St Martins involves its service users and responds to their changing needs and interests.

  • Anabel Palmer

    Anabel Palmer

    Former Chair of St Martin of Tours, 1987-1990 Listen to the story

    Anabel Palmer joined the Board of St Martins in 1987. She brought her legal knowledge of housing associations at a time of great change in legislation and funding. Anabel became Chair of the Board for 3 years, and then remained on the Board until 1996. Anabel explains how St Martins responded to drastic changes in housing and care and the subsequent need to professionalise in line with greater regulatory requirements.

  • Catherine Cox

    Catherine Cox

    Former Service User and Member of the Board of Trustees, 2007-Current Listen to the story

    Catherine is a former service user who joined the Board of St Martins in 2007 as a way of giving back to society and to St Martins for offering her the support she needed in a time of need. Catherine talks about the invaluable support that is given to vulnerable people at St Martins to help them rejoin the community. She also talks about her enthusiasm to take part in this work.

  • 2003

    St Martins opens a number of supporting people projects across London.

    John is originally from Dublin and came to live in London in the 1980s. He pursued a career in the voluntary sector including housing associations and drug and alcohol services. He joined St Martins in 2003 as Chief Executive and helped bring about the modernization of the organisation, including the diversification of service provision, specialisation in forensic mental healthcare and greater service user involvement.  John talks about how St Martins involves its service users and responds to their changing needs and interests.

  • Godwin Letsu

    Godwin Letsu

    Manager of Ferrini House at the time of the interview, 2000 - Current Listen to the story

    Godwin has worked for St Martins since the year 2000. He managed a project to support ex-offenders and substance misuse service users at Ferrini House, Lambeth, which closed in March 2016. From 1 April 2016, Godwin took on the role of the Manager at St Martins’ care home in Wembley which supports the recovery of men with complex mental health needs. Godwin reflects on some of the happy memories from his time managing Ferrini House.

  • John Thompson

    John Thompson

    Current Chief Executive, 2004 - Current Listen to the story

    John is originally from Dublin and came to live in London in the 1980s. He pursued a career in the voluntary sector including housing associations and drug and alcohol services. He joined St Martins in 2003 as Chief Executive and helped bring about the modernization of the organisation, including the diversification of service provision, specialisation in forensic mental healthcare and greater service user involvement. John talks about how St Martins involves its service users and responds to their changing needs and interests.

  • 2012

    St Martins opens a mental health care home in west London to add to services in north, east and south London.

    John is originally from Dublin and came to live in London in the 1980s. He pursued a career in the voluntary sector including housing associations and drug and alcohol services. He joined St Martins in 2003 as Chief Executive and helped bring about the modernization of the organisation, including the diversification of service provision, specialisation in forensic mental healthcare and greater service user involvement.  John talks about how St Martins involves its service users and responds to their changing needs and interests.

  • 2016

    St Martins opens its first dual diagnosis service for men with learning disabilities and mental health need.

    John is originally from Dublin and came to live in London in the 1980s. He pursued a career in the voluntary sector including housing associations and drug and alcohol services. He joined St Martins in 2003 as Chief Executive and helped bring about the modernization of the organisation, including the diversification of service provision, specialisation in forensic mental healthcare and greater service user involvement.  John talks about how St Martins involves its service users and responds to their changing needs and interests.

  • Terry Page

    Terry Page

    Former service user (1978 and 2006-2014) Listen to the story

    Terry was born in Trinidad and came to England in the mid-1960s. He moved into St Martins hostel in Islington in 1978 and has vivid memories of that time. Terry moved back into St Martins accommodation from 2006 to 2014 from where he made a good transition to independent living. Terry recollects the layout of Wilton Villas in the late 1970s, how he found some kind of peace there and his fondness for the staff that supported him.

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