Humans of Chelmsford
About This Show
Brought to you by Essex Live, Humans of Chelmsford is a weekly podcast about inspiring people with incredible tales from across the city.
Each week we uncover the stories you never knew existed about fellow Chelmsford residents and their lives.
Most Recent Episode
10: Episode 10: The brutal reality of life as a drug addict and gang leader
On this episode of Humans of Chelmsford, former drug addict and gang leader Paul Hannaford tells us about his incredibly unforgiving and chaotic life.
As a boy growing up in East London and then Essex, Paul had dreams of playing football for West Ham United.
However, by the time he got into year nine at school his life spiralled out of control and it was all down to drugs.
After being introduced to weed and a variety of other drugs he mixed with people who liked what he liked – chaos.
He was kicked out of a number of schools, a pupil referral unit and that group of kids soon became a gang that would roam around armed with knives committing all manner of crime.
At the age of 21, Paul had a number of criminal convictions, had been stabbed around seven times – one almost fatally – and he had risen to become one of the gang leaders.
He was being driven around in luxury cars, wore a Rolex and, on the face of it, seemed to be king until he tried heroin one night.
After testing that drug out for the first time Paul became addicted and he essentially wasted away, living a lonely existence in crack dens with other addicts.
He was cast aside by his gang and his health deteriorated massively as he injected himself all over his body on a daily basis.
With the police constantly on the lookout for him because of his persistent offending he eventually handed himself into the authorities, a move that saved his life.
In fact part of his final prison sentence was spent handcuffed to a bed in Broomfield Hospital as medical staff battled to save his legs following years of abuse.
In the end they were saved but he still has open wounds that he has to treat every day despite now being clean for over 11 years.
After everything he has been through, Paul has now turned his hand to educating and advising children and inmates across the country.
With gang and drug crime on the up he is using his own experiences to warn them just what the consequences are.
For more information about Paul Hannaford's work go to his website http://www.paulhannaford.com/
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