High-flyer at school to heroin addict - City homeless man reveals his story
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2022
Myles Harris is straight to the point when explaining why he is now sleeping rough in Norwich.
"Becoming a heroin addict was my big mistake," he admitted.
"From the age of 18 when I was at college to the age of 35 - I just did not stop."
The 43-year-old was born in Norwich but grew up in London where he learnt to play the piano and cello.
The well-educated youngster excelled in his exams at a Hampstead Heath school before going on to study at the former Polytechnic of North London in Holloway Road.
But by the time he returned to Norfolk in 1997 both Myles and his brother Guy were immersed in the rave culture and became heroin addicts.
Myles recalls contracting hepatitis C at the time but not knowing where to turn for support.
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Guy died 10 years ago from a heroin overdose but Myles has now committed to try and turn his life around.
He said: "I became involved with the music scene and lived a transient life. Drugs were quite prevalent in the early 90s and we had no direction from school or college or anyone.
"We saw it as the norm at the time and did not really understand quite how much it was going to affect us in the long-term."
Myles is now on a methadone prescription which keeps him "on the straight and narrow" after seeking help for his drug addiction.
He can often be seen sitting on a piece of cardboard opposite the entrance to the Royal Arcade in Castle Street.
Collecting £18 during the course of a day is enough for him to spend the night in a bed and breakfast.
"I am 43 now and I am so depressed. I do not think I have anything left to live for and there have been occasions where I want to kill myself," Myles said.
The rough sleeper has two kids living in Norwich, his mum lives in Castle Acre and his dad lives in Swaffham.
"I pray that the schools can give these kids lessons on gang culture and how to avoid it," he said.
"There are so many kids dying and ruining their lives from being swept up in that life."
How homeless people can get help this winter
Commissioned by Norwich City Council, Pathways is a collaboration between the authority and six other local organisations who work together to help homeless people and those with complex needs in the city.
St Martins Housing Trust has urged anyone sleeping rough to contact the Pathways team who provide accommodation, advice and support.
Myles said: "Pathways have been amazing and some of the greatest people I have ever met. They want to help and their hearts are really in the right places."
Homeless people can also get a shower, hot drink and food from The Arc at Pottergate, run by the Salvation Army.
The Feed also runs a community fridge and provides regular hot meals for homeless people.