'I won't try and be part of their lives until I quit drugs' - Young dad opens up about his hopes for his future with his children
- Billy Weedon (36) first tried crack cocaine aged 12
- He became homeless for the first time at just 13 years of age
- He ran away to Ireland to get married aged 19
- Now works as an outreach co-ordinator as he is determined to turn his life around
- On relapse: 'I was so furious and disappointed without myself, I'd undone everything'
A young dad has said that he is determined to wean himself off drugs and get somewhere to live so he can be part of his estranged children's lives.
Billy Weedon (36) first experimented with Class-A drugs aged 12, "ran away" to Ireland to get married aged 19 and is now living on the streets off Dublin.
Billy, who grew up in London, told Independent.ie that he was bullied in school due to his epilepsy.
He transferred to a school for children with behavioural problems, and says he believes this is when things started to go wrong for him.
"I was fine before I went to the behavioural school and there I just would act out, act the maggot," Billy said.
"When I was 12 I tried Class-A drugs for the first time, crack cocaine, I knew other people who were doing it and thought, 'why not?'
"I developed a bit of a habit and got into a lot of debt, I started robbing to try and pay it off and to get my next fix."
Billy claimed he first experienced homelessness when he was 13 but was still in touch with his family.
Then, when he was 19 he decided to move to Ireland after he "fell in love fast."
He said: "I met this woman, she was from Dublin and had only been living in London for about a week and a half.
"I fell in love with her fast, I asked her if she'd run away with me and she said we should go to Dublin.
"I think we were both expecting the other one to say no and back out but we never did and next thing you know we were on the boat to Dublin."
The couple stayed with his partner's sister when they first arrived in Dublin. Within two years they'd welcomed their first daughter, followed shortly afterwards by another baby girl.
Billy and his partner have since split up and he says he has not seen her or their daughters since 2008.
He told Independent.ie he primarily takes heroin and has said that he wants to quit all drugs before he tries to reconcile with them.
He said: "The girls must be in their teens now, I haven't seen them in years though but I would like to.
"I know [my partner] and I are over for good and I completely accept that but in an ideal world I would like to be able to contact them.
"It wouldn't be fair though on them and I won't try and be a part of their lives until I'm clean first.
"People ask why I'm still in Dublin and why don't I just go back to London but I like to be here because I want to feel closer to them, even if I'm not with them."
Billy had his own flat for a brief stint and managed to go seven weeks without taking heroin until he relapsed last year.
He said: "I just wasn't strong enough for it, I went out one day and I just had to take something, I was so furious and disappointed without myself, I'd undone everything."
He said he is now hoping to get his own apartment again and admits that living on the streets can be secluded.
He said: "I wouldn't say it's lonely, there are a lot of us homeless people in Dublin but it's definitely a secluded life.
"People walk past you and straight away judge you, they just think straight away you're a junkie and write you off, it can be very narrow minded.
"You could try and do initiatives to try and break down this stigma and help the wider community understand but people aren't going to learn anything unless they actually want and how do you do that?
"People are just busy with their own lives but I don't think they realise that people living on the streets are some of the smartest I know."
Billy also spoke candidly about how tough hostel accommodation in the capital can be.
He said: "They're s**t, I've been robbed and attacked in some of them.
"To be honest there's only one or two I'd actually feel safe staying in now."
Billy is now working as an outreach co-ordinator for with the Union for Improved Services, Communication and Education (UISCE), which is recognised by the State as the representative body for people who use drugs.
UISCE was part of the team behind the new National Drug Strategy - Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery and psychologists use their peer-led outreach to provide an impartial and unbiased voice for people who use drugs.
He said: "I'm really proud to say I'm involved in that, to have that role."
He also writes for their publication Brass Monkey.
He said: "I like to try and keep it real and just chat about what my life is really like.
"I like to write poetry as well and I write music, I mostly like classical stuff.
"I just want people to see that I'm a normal bloke."