EIGHTEEN months ago Kevin Cooper was a homeless heroin addict selling class A drugs on the streets of Oxford to feed his own £300 a day habit.

In and out of prison for most of his adult life, when he was free his life consisted of committing crime or catching a few hours sleep on friends’ sofas.

But thanks to a little help from an Oxford charity, and a lot of effort, the 45-year-old is now getting his life back on track.

Mr Cooper said: “Most of my life has been pretty hectic.

“I started smoking heroin in 1981. I was just curious, and a lot of my friends were getting into it. It just spiralled downwards then.

“I realised things had to change during my last spell in prison.

“I’m not getting any younger, things have to change. I just didn’t like who I was.

“The first thing I did was to delete all the dealers’ numbers off my phone, then I managed to get into rehab. It was the best thing I could have done.

“They knock you down, before they build you back up again.

“It makes you really look at yourself and you learn a lot.

“I realised I wasn’t a nice person and I didn’t like myself.”

For the past five months Mr Cooper has been living at Osney Court, in a flat run by charity St Mungo’s.

The self-contained flats are specifically for people who have succeeded in coming off drugs, with specialist support workers on hand to help. He decided to tell his story to mark St Mungo’s Call to Action week, which runs until tomorrow.

The charity, which helps with housing, drug and alcohol support, health care and job training, has invited people who use the service to speak out and show that what it does really works.

Since getting into contact with St Mungo’s, Mr Cooper has started volunteer work with a gardening centre and now goes to college where he is training to work as a mentor for other people in his situation.

He is enjoying a better relationship with his mother and sister, and once he is fully recovered, Mr Cooper said he is hoping to reconnect and become a ‘proper father’ to his estranged 22-year-old son, who is also called Kevin.

He said: “I’m not saying I will never slip up again. But I have realised it is down to me.”