I grew up just outside Newcastle. My dad was an alcoholic. My mum took beatings for years. I brought myself up then and I’ve been doing it ever since.
My earliest memory is going to Scotland to spend the summer with my grandma. I used to run away from home, and they always knew where to find me. I would hitchhike my way there.
My gran treated me like the child I was - I didn’t have to worry about myself for a change. I got to make some really good friends up there. When I was living with my mum, I didn’t really have any friends, because everybody knew what my family was like.
When my gran died about 11 years ago it all just fell apart. I ended up coming to dad in Scotland. That’s when I hit the drink and drugs really heavily. I went to the Edinburgh bus station and got on the first bus that came. That’s how I ended up in London.
I thought London had streets paved with gold. I was still on drugs, so I bought some gear, sat on the corner, got arrested, fined and ended up on the streets. I got into heroin, crack, whatever I could get my hands on. I just didn’t care any more. My leg is useless from injecting drugs.
I enjoy bike-riding, going through the forest, things like that. I’ve been on crutches for a year, but as soon as the physio is complete, I’ll be back to all that.
I used drugs to hide my past, and drink to bring it back up whenever I wanted. You have jolly drinkers and angry drinkers. I was angry.
When I came to Islington, I met a guy who lived here, Peter. He just sat down and spoke to me for 2½ hours. That helps me more than somebody handing me a couple of quid. Don’t forget who I am. Remember the fact that I’m a human being.
Since then we’ve become really good friends. We grew stronger. He saw something in me that I didn’t see. He kept getting on at me to get in somewhere. I’ve got a lot to thank him for.
I would give up my life for Peter, definitely. I count him as kin. He’s seen me at my lowest low - the point when I felt like killing myself. He’s seen me at my highest, where I am now, virtually drug free. I haven’t gone begging, haven’t touched a needle - haven’t done a lot of things since the day I moved in here!
The last time I cried was when Peter told me he was going to be a dad. It brought back memories of the day that happened to me.
Seeing my son being born was the happiest moment in my life. He’ll be thirteen now. I swore I wouldn’t see him when I was on drugs. I’ve been to see him a couple of times - not to talk to him, just to check that he’s OK. When I’m clean, off the methadone and everything, I will make contact again, but I will understand if he does not want a relationship.
I can’t stand bullies. I’ve seen that on the streets for years. I used to enjoy getting people’s money back for them once the bullies had taken it away.
My biggest fear is that I’ll end up back the way I was. I know I’m not ready for my own place just yet.
I still think to myself “How the hell did you survive?”. As I said to a staff member recently, I reckon this is my last chance to make something of myself.
If I can help one person to stop taking drugs, then I feel I will have accomplished something.