A FORMER Big Issue seller from Leamington has turned his life around.
Will has come a long way since the Observer last interviewed him in 2016.
Back then Will was a regular face on the Parade having sold the Big Issue there for eight years. He became known for the cheery greeting he gave those who passed him and many people felt he was capable of bigger and better things.
Finally he has proved those people correct. He has attended a treatment centre for substance addiction, adopted a 12-step approach to life and is currently in his final year of a BSc in mental health nursing.
But it has been a bumpy road for the 47-year-old to get to this point.
He said: “When the Observer ran the article on me in 2016 I was lost in active addiction. When I read the article today I cringe at the “narrative” I told to myself and the world. This “narrative” protected me from the reality of what my life had become.
“I started using substances at 14, from 17 I used daily. When the article was published I had been selling the Big Issue for approximately eight years – I went on to sell it for another year. I began selling “The Issue” as a way of funding my habit. By this stage I had tried everything I could think of to stop using drugs, and even with a sincere desire to stop using I had failed. I had given up on life and myself.”
Will continued that the Big Issue provided him with the means to support himself without being answerable to anyone.
“I could come and go as I pleased which suited me as I was completely unmanageable and a slave to my addiction. It was also largely consequence free, as opposed to shoplifting and the like. Those nine years were the most miserable time of my life. Pretending I “chose” to sell it and that I was happy. It was a living purgatory, very much like Ground Hog day.”
But then things began to change for Will.
He explained: “Through a series of seemingly unconnected encounters I found myself in a drug treatment centre in Derby – Jericho House. This charitable organisation, which is run by recovering addicts, exists to support males with drug addiction issues. They took me in, accepted me and loved me until I could love myself.
“They helped me to overcome my “narrative” that had kept me using for so many years.
They introduced me to a new way of life and gave me the time, space and support I needed. I was a resident for nine months then went on to partake of their aftercare programme. I volunteered there for two and a half years.
“In that time, I continued to focus on my early recovery and re-learnt how to approach life in a responsible and accountable manner. I got my own place, passed my driving test and completed further education. Today I truly appreciate and value my life and all that it contains.
“I am a valued and trusted member of my family and community. I have an active and wonderful social life with friends that truly care for me and I for them. I am in my final year of a mental health nursing degree. I believe the best is yet to come.”
For more information on Jericho House Derby call 01332 757 737 or visit https://en-gb.facebook.com/Jerichohousederby1/
Those suffering addiction can also call the NA Helpline on 0300 999 1212.