Sanctuary, a short film to show impact of homelessness prevention

We’re delighted to release ‘Sanctuary’, a short film based on the lived experiences of Emmanuel House service users. The 8-minute film is available to watch below.


Please note, this film explores themes relating to abuse, suicide and trauma. If you need support in relation to the issues within the film, please visit our film resources page.

Commissioned to promote Emmanuel House’s #TacklingHomelessness Winter Appeal, ‘Sanctuary’ was directed and produced by Luke Radford, who co-directed the charity’s 2020 short film Lone, as well as BBC One’s Soul Boy. It stars Lucky Azad, Danish Latif and Shammi Aulakh, with music composed by Fergus Brignall. The film is set and filmed in Nottingham.

The film tells the story of Kareem, who has lived with the memories of family trauma and abuse since childhood. Unable to cope with these memories, his life begins to spiral and he becomes at risk of homelessness. The film tells his story and how he seeks to gain closure and, with support from Emmanuel House, move forward with his life.

Based on real people’s stories

‘Sanctuary’ is true to life and based on the lived experiences of Emmanuel House service users. The director met with Emmanuel House support workers and beneficiaries to learn more about homelessness prevention and to listen to different stories. Luke wrote the script based on the lived experiences of the people he spoke to.

Whilst Sanctuary is a fictional reimagining of service user stories, it was important that the film was rooted in reality and reflected real lived experiences.

Luke Radford, director of ‘Sanctuary’

Importance of homelessness prevention

Anyone can become homeless, regardless of how secure they are in their current circumstances – people with jobs, families, friends and homes.

Denis Tully, CEO at Emmanuel House

A lot of Emmanuel House’s work is to do with preventing people from becoming homeless in the first place. A lot of our outreach work, like that of Kareem’s support worker in the film, is to do with helping people who are in poor accommodation and are vulnerable to becoming homeless. Many people that suffer with their mental health and childhood trauma often find it hard to manage the complexities involved with managing a tenancy and need support.

Denis Tully, CEO at Emmanuel House

‘Sanctuary’ demonstrates the impact that childhood trauma can have all the way through life. It is a significant factor that contributes to homelessness and it was important for us to show one of its many causes. A lot of the people we support suffer from the effects of trauma and when they arrive at Emmanuel House, we connect them with specialist services.

Denis Tully, CEO at Emmanuel House

We also want to show and celebrate the fortitude, resilience and strength of the people we support.

Denis Tully, CEO at Emmanuel House

Cast and crew

Sanctuary was directed and written by Luke Radford, produced by Derry Shillitto, edited by Toby Curson, with cinematography by Jermaine Edwards.

Thanks to the incredibly talented cast and crew for being involved in the making of the film. I’m also very grateful to Emmanuel House beneficiaries and support workers for sharing their stories.

Luke Radford, director of ‘Sanctuary’

Directed and produced by Luke Radford
Produced by Derry Shillitto
Cinematography by Jermaine Edwards
Edited by Toby Curson
Original music by Fergus Brignall
Costume designer – Cobbie Yates
Costume department – Danielle Knight
Art department – Sofia Cruciani and Ella Tolson
1st assistant director – Kamran Iqbal
1st assistant camer – Todd Franklin
Audio mix by Rick Smith
Production assistants – Connor Pearce, Heather Bradley, Jack Parry

Kareem – Lucky Azad
Teenage Kareem – Danish Latif
Dad – Shammi Aulakh
Wife – Carla Kayani-Lawman
Son – Elijah Zamman
Son – Deen Zamman
Mum – Shaila Haque-Brand
Sister – Alliyah Mukri
Sister – Ashbeel Azer
HR supervisor – Clare McGill
Boss – Tim Rumboll
Boxer – Ben Jones
Emmanuel House keyworker – Jade Moore

Thanks to:
Jack Delaney
Simply Thrilled
Nottingham City Homes
Marcellus Baz
Nottingham School of Boxing
Cars of Nottingham
Victoria Café

By donating to our Winter Appeal, you’re helping us in #TacklingHomelessness and preventing people like Kareem from living on the streets. It means more people like Kareem can be supported into suitable accommodation and given the support to make life-long changes.

Be part of our winter story – text STORY to 70460 to donate £10* (or STORY 5 to donate £5, STORY 20 to donate £20 etc).