'There's no better feeling': Wrexham man overcomes drug addiction and homelessness to help others

  • Video report by ITV Wales reporter Ian Lang

A Wrexham man whose life spiralled out of control through heroin addiction and homelessness is now in recovery and helping others to turn their lives around.

Nathan Cranshaw was a "young and naive" teenager when he first tried a drug known as spice - a former so-called 'legal high' designed to mimic the effects of cannabis.

"I ended up in the town centre at Wrexham in between hostels, shared houses, on the streets," Nathan said.

"I started smoking spice first - that really got a grip of me. But when I first started smoking it, it was legal, so I didn't really think that it was an issue.

"Psychologically it messed my head up. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't eat, I was losing weight - I think I got to about seven stone.

"You're young and naive - you don't understand. I was the same. All the people that I've always bothered with, they've always been a couple of years older than me. So seeing them smoke weed or sniff cocaine, I looked up to that and thought, 'That's cool, I'm going to be part of that'.

"Same with selling drugs, doing anything like that. You look up to them and you think they're good friends. They're not - they're just there to manipulate you."

Nathan has now been trained up to support other people in turning their lives around.

'It's the rewarding feeling that you get, seeing someone change their life'

Nathan is now in recovery, with help from the North Wales Recovery Communities charity in Bangor and its partnership with the social justice charity Nacro.

He was introduced to Penrhyn House - a detox centre which provided him with a room and the support he needed whilst he got sober.

Phil Clarke, community engagement officer for Nacro, said: "I've worked alongside Penrhyn House for probably about five years or so, from when it started, in various roles.

"I admire the work that they do here. They take someone like Nathan when they're kind of broken and turn them around into the kind of person that Nathan is today."

Working alongside Nacro, Nathan volunteered to work as a support officer for the Dynamic Framework programme, which helps people both in prison and on release to change their lives.

He has now completed his training and will soon start a placement shadowing a member of staff working with high-risk offenders.

From there he will be based in a probation office, using his own lived experience to help others find a way forward.

Nathan said: "When I first got this position with Nacro, that's when I realised I can do something.

"From a young age - getting involved with the services myself - I've always wanted to be part of the services to help other people. I don't think there's any better feeling than helping someone get a property or help them turn their life around.

"Seeing it from the other side now, it's the rewarding feeling that you get - the warm feeling - seeing someone change their life, and you've been part of that. I don't think there's any better feeling than that."

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