Listeners are saying this James O'Brien call should be "compulsory listening"

3 December 2019, 13:20 | Updated: 3 December 2019, 14:12

The caller told James O'Brien about getting out of poverty - and listeners said it was a must-listen for political parties.

John called in to talk about his experience of growing up in poverty.

He said that he grew up with stepfather figures who were heroin "addicts" and "dealers" and you could not imagine a "more impoverished estate".

He said: "I am one of seven. The other six are all adults now. In and out of prison, drug addicts, alcoholics. Every single person, more or less."

He added: "The reality is that we talk about the kind of life expectancies going down, things were that bad then now and they're only getting worse now."

When he was a kid, he said, £30 a week meant that he could afford to eat and go to college.

He explained: "The means that were available to assist me in climbing out of the hole I was born into have been stripped away systematically and continuing to be stripped away systematically."

This heartbreaking James O'Brien call is being described as "compulsory listening"
This heartbreaking James O'Brien call is being described as "compulsory listening". Picture: LBC

John said: " It's quite frankly a miracle I'm now in the position I'm in. If I was born into that same position, but five years ago, instead of 31 years ago, I would not stand the chance quite frankly."

He said this is because he wouldn't be able to go to college - and that was his escape route.

He told James O'Brien: "The first time I got given £30 at age 16, into my bank, that was the most money I've ever held in my hand in my life."

John then spoke about applying for jobs.

A recruitment company said they would give him a chance.

Fast forward 10 to 15 years and he now in a position that is "completely unrecognisable from the beginnings".

He said: "As we strip back all of the support networks, all of the opportunities, all the mechanisms by which somebody could drag themselves to a point higher than where they started, I don't know if any are even left.

I'd say they are being stripped away, but I'd probably go as far to say they've just gone."

John powerfully said: "If I had to face that same challenge tomorrow in today's world I'm not so sure I could."

He then explained the process of how somebody might become a heroin addict.

He said these people are "already in a place that is darker than you could imagine."

The call was so powerful, it left some people in tears.

Others called it "compulsory listening" for voters.