Paul James is a 59-year-old former footballer, who was born in Wales but who represented the Canadian national team at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.
After hanging up his boots, though, his life has taken a turn and he has fallen into drugs and poverty, spending six years without a permanent home.
He played 47 times for his country and also later coached the U20s Canadian national team.
But, he has been unemployed for the last 13 years and is currently living on the London streets, having returned to the UK from Canada just before the pandemic.
Paul James on the stigma of crack cocaine
Speaking in an interview at the end of 2022, James was quite clear in his view that he lost work because of the stigma that was attached to him for using crack cocaine.
« My football career was everything,’ he said in an interview with the Daily Mail.
« I should not have lost a day’s work. If I was to end my life tomorrow, which I won’t, people would understand because it’s been a f**king brutality.
« I don’t think you should call anyone a drug addict, a crack addict, a junkie.
« The words conjure up irrationality and a series of labels which view those exposed as: criminal, scary, irrational, unreliable, to be avoided, diseased, loser, dirty, lazy, scum, non-employable.
« Can you see how disgusting that language is?
« How do you ever recover from being labelled a homeless crack addict? You don’t.
« There’s never been a war on drugs. How can you have a war on inanimate things? There’s only ever been a war on people.
« And it is those most vulnerable who suffer most from the devastation of the stigma: social exclusion, marginalized, poverty. »
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