Romford's Paul Hannaford aims to educate two million young people on perils of addiction
- Credit: Paul Hannaford
It’s been a whirlwind 10 years for Romford-born Paul Hannaford, who in that time has made it his mission to educate young people on the perils of addiction.
Speaking from lived experience, this month marks 14 years clean for the 51-year-old.
Ahead of this milestone, the Recorder caught up with Paul to discuss his new book and his hopes for the future.
The author – who to date has spoken to half a million children – is frank in his summary of The Unconscious Kid.
“This book is about one thing. Addiction is universal. It doesn’t matter how wealthy you are, what religion you are - this is going on in our communities.”
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One particular word recurs throughout: education. Paul speaks openly to hammer home the importance of early intervention: “Addiction, drugs, county lines – these things aren’t going away. We need to educate kids. Academics aren’t enough. If we don’t give kids an education from a person with experience, they could be at more risk.”
Paul now does exactly this. After four years clean, he decided to make educating young people his priority, first starting out at a Rainham youth club.
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“When speaking to that group I had no idea that 10 years on, I would’ve spoken to half a million kids.”
Paul’s reach is considerable. Headteachers across the country seek out his expertise; prior to coronavirus he was visiting five schools a week. He wants more: “If I can convince one headteacher at one school – then I can speak to 1,000 kids. My next aim is to get to one million. Over the next 10 years, I want to double that.”
The Unconscious Kid is written with the trademark honesty of its author. It’s a no-holds-barred account of how addiction destroys lives. Paul's passion to educate is a direct consequence of his first-hand experience.
“I never had a workshop at school. I fundamentally believe that if I had been more educated, I would have made better choices.”
He’s determined to give future generations that chance.
For further information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit @paulhannaford on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
‘The Unconscious Kid’ - published on November 26 - is available on Amazon.
To see more of Paul's work, visit paulhannaford.com.