A RECOVERING addict who was once homeless is reliving the trauma of life on the streets in an effort to help others. 

Richie Roncero is coining in cash for a cause close to his heart as he sets out on a journey to sleep rough for five weeks in five different cities across the UK.

Having only just finished up his first week in Glasgow, the 37-year-old has taken the time to reflect on his experience of the city and how he was treated by locals.

"It has been really tough", he admits.

"I think, for me anyway, the minute I sat down with a cup in front of me and looked up, I felt so small.

"You feel separated from society and there are so many horrible stares and dirty looks thrown at you.

“You feel completely disconnected to the world and I have experienced that here in Glasgow, although the people here have been very generous and helpful to me, compared to those in Edinburgh." 

Glasgow Times:

Richie - who has been registered as homeless for most of his adult life - found himself on the streets of the capital several years ago after a relationship broke down. 

He was caught up in a cycle of using drugs and sofa surfing before he came across a mentor who was recovering from heroin himself. 

After a 16-year battle with the drug, Richie managed to break the mould and set up his own charity, Steps to Hope SCIO, to help those in a similar situation as him. 

He said: “I tried absolutely everything to get clean and sober. I went to prison, I was homeless, I went to rehab and I had broken relationships with my family. 

“I tried everything to stop and I couldn’t find a way. It was another addict in recovery that mentored me and got me better. Nobody gave me that information and told me that you need somebody with lived experience in your life to help you. 

“I got clean and sober and wanted to give back to society because I had been a bit of a toerag."

Glasgow Times:

Steps to Hope stemmed from five pairs of gloves and five hats after Richie and his daughter handed the items of clothing out to those in need on Christmas day three years ago. 

Now, the charity feeds 500 people every week and offers a programme to those who are homeless and suffering from addictions. It helps those to overcome their illness and into accommodation.

While Richie is doing the sleep-out to raise cash for his organisation, he is hoping to change the public's perception of addicts and those who find themselves without a roof over their heads.

He said: “Addiction is an illness and people think it is a choice. We are human beings and we are on the streets and need help, we can’t get that without a bit of compassion.  

“I’m out here and I’m trying to document what I’m seeing. If I can help people try to change their views the world could be a better place.  

“In Scotland, we have the highest drugs death in Europe and that number is rising. I’m out here and I’m campaigning to change the attitudes towards those suffering from addictions. 

“Drugs are rife in every city in the UK and I have witnessed it during my time here in Glasgow.  

“Those that have come over and sat down for two minutes with me have made my day. We just need a bit more compassion for people who are down on their luck."

A total of £12,000 has been raised by Richie so far. 

Glasgow Times:

He has ambitious goals to grow his charity - and has plans to come to Glasgow. 

“I have big hopes to help people in Glasgow", he said. 

"I have already done coffee runs at 5.30am for those who are on the streets to engage with them to see what is needed here.

“I’m doing this to get as much research as I can. I'll take what I find back to my charity to help others. I’d love to be able to branch out to Glasgow and I do see it happening one day."

Richie will visit London, Liverpool and Aberdeen before finishing his journey in Dundee.

He said: "I’m just grateful to be in this position where I can do this now.

"Homelessness and addiction have been a huge part of my life and that’s why I want to help others who are in the same situation I have been in."

Donate to Richie's fundraiser by visiting HERE.

More information about the charity can also be found HERE.