LIVING in a rundown council block next to deserted shops, with a stench of human waste in the air, mum Despina somehow survives. Here, in a deprived suburb of Newcastle, she lives with her daughter Natalie, a heroin user whom she recently found lying bloodied and with puncture marks on her neck. Despina and Natalie — who has been using the drug for years — are among the forgotten people of a city where some areas are now plagued with drugs, gun-toting gangs and a lost generation of kids. The home of reality TV show Geordie Shore and football’s Toon Army, Newcastle is vibrant and beautiful, with stunning architecture, a bustling city centre and iconic industrial heritage. As its official website proudly declares: “Newcastle is a great city, one that never stands still. A place of bright sparks and big ideas . . . of justice, fairness and deeply held values.” It was named one of the best places to live and work in 2018 for its green spaces, cultural services, healthcare and jobs. Its citizens are known far and wide as some of the most friendly, good-humoured Brits.But the city also has a dark side. The North East is England and Wales’ drugs-death… Read full this story
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