Richard Walsh from Norwich on addiction recovery


9:30 a.m. on November 12, 2021

2:46 PM November 12, 2021

A few years ago, he was spending hundreds of pounds a day on drugs, forcing him to take to the streets.

But now 43-year-old Richard Walsh has a roof over his head and wants to work with young people trapped in drug trafficking.

His journey began when he turned to the Matthew Project Next Steps recovery center on Oak Street in early 2020.

Recovering drug addict Richard Walsh, who turned to photography in 2020, in front of his work at the Matthew Project Center Next Steps
– Credit: DENISE BRADLEY / Archant2021

And now he hopes to embark on a career in street photography and light painting – a skill he didn’t have until 2020.

Richard, now known as Street Shots, hopes to exhibit his many photos of the city.

He said: “Since I started on Project Matthew my life has changed. I thought my life was over and I couldn’t have imagined where I am now.

“Drug addiction is crippling. It’s something you don’t notice, but it’s a disease that comes over you.

“The hardest part is taking that first step, looking at your life and what’s going on around you.

“There is always help for people, no matter how badly you are affected by addiction, but you have to want to do it for yourself.”

A light painting by Richard Walsh from Norwich

A light painting by Richard Walsh from Norwich
– Credit: Street Shots

Richard, a father of three who grew up in Wymondham, first became involved in drugs at the age of 14 when he began to smoke cannabis recreationally to “get the hang of it.” look cool ”while on the bus to Norwich University.

But after being kicked out he was used by people older than himself to sell drugs in Norwich clubs as a teenager and over the next 20 years his habit evolved into ecstasy, cocaine, crack and heroin.

He said he fell into the wrong crowd during his school years.

After settling in with the mother of his son and daughter, now in their teens, he continued to take drugs, which made him cranky and secretive.

This later led to the loss of his job as a truck driver.

“I never considered myself to be an addict,” he added, but said that everyone who is addicted lives in denial.

“It is a selfish disease and you don’t realize the destruction it is causing to the people around you.”

A black and white portrait of Richard Walsh

A black and white portrait of Richard Walsh
– Credit: Street Shots

After leaving his home in Wymondham, his partner and children, Richard admitted his life ‘got out of hand’ and was spending £ 300-400 a day on drugs after returning to town.

He financed his habit through shoplifting and trafficking and lived in inns.

He said: “Life was a bit chaotic in terms of the environment I was in. I remember waking up once in a wheelie bin outside of Greggs on St Stephens Street and thinking:” What the hell am I doing? “”

For almost a decade, Richard Sofa surfed and tried to get help from different programs.

The last time he took drugs was 18 months ago – but started the road to recovery after starting the Next Steps photography course.

A photo taken by Richard Walsh depicting his recovery from drug addiction

A photo taken by Richard Walsh depicting his recovery from drug addiction
– Credit: Street Shots

Richard said: “For 20 years my identity was partying, drugs and trafficking. It was the case of having to change my whole life.

“I was lucky that I was able to get out on the other side and not end up in jail or worse – dead.

“I’m trying to get back into the services that have helped me and saved my life.”

This includes working with youth caught up in County Lines drug trafficking and helping the homeless through Project Pathways.

A colorful image of Richard Walsh

A colorful image of Richard Walsh
– Credit: Street Shots

Richard, who loves people watching, learned a lot of his photography skills on YouTube after the first Covid lockdown prevented face-to-face classes at Next Steps and said it gave him an escape.


Chance to support the recovery center

People can help those recovering from substance abuse by supporting a week-long fundraising campaign led by the Matthew Project.

The charity’s Big Give Christmas Challenge runs from November 30 at 12 p.m. to December 7 at 12 p.m. to raise much-needed funds for the Next Steps center which receives no government funding.

The campaign has so far attracted £ 15,000 in pledges from local trusts and foundations, but it hopes to attract £ 30,000 to keep the center operating at full capacity.

All donations, which can be given for this week only, will be matched.

The Next Steps base, which opened in 2019, provides specialized individual and group support to adults recovering from addiction, as well as support for the management of youth clubs for youth affected by parental addiction and evening groups for veterans. affected by substance abuse and PTSD.

It costs £ 1,200 to put an adult in recovery from drug and / or alcohol addiction as part of the eight week recovery support program.

£ 10 could pay for equipment adults can use in a course in the recovery support program, including clay, paint, tools or cooking ingredients.


Richard’s top photography tips

A photo of a man near a bus by Richard Walsh

A photo of a man near a bus by Richard Walsh
– Credit: Street Shots

1. Everyone now has a cell phone, so give yours a try.

2. Find a style of photography you like and follow it.

3. YouTube is great for tips and tricks.

4. Choose a theme to photograph, such as beaches or people.

5. Enjoy it and have fun.


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