photos: Victoria welcomes a new Megaphone vendor. Photo by Marius Masalar

Starting off on a good note

From music, to friends, to family, Victoria vendor James Hope has found his rhythm again following a bout with mental illness. Travis Poor photo.

Get on your megaphone

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If you’re in the Victoria area near the London Drugs on Yates Street, be sure to look for hope.

James Hope, that is.

James is Megaphone’s newest Victoria vendor and the good-natured 41-year-old will be happy to chat with you—especially if you or someone you know is grappling with mental health challenges. He’d like his customers and readers to know that there is, well, hope.

“I had a long bout with mental illness,” he says. “That took quite a toll on my life. But I’m in a better place now. I’m on the right meds and I’ve done a lot of work on myself through CBT [Cognitive Behavioural Therapy].”

A supportive family, he adds, has made all the difference.

“My mom has been like a nurse-angel,” he says. “She’s really helped a lot.”

His parents live in Sidney, and his sister and her husband and their two teenage children live in Fernwood. James says they all play an important role in helping him battle a formidable foe when it comes to mental illness: isolation.

“If anybody is struggling with mental health issues, I would encourage them to reach out and expect recovery. There’s always help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

James was born in England and came to Canada with his family when he was 10 years old. They settled in Victoria in the late 1980s and he’s been there ever since.

A few months ago, when he was looking for work, he met veteran Victoria vendor Evelyn Baron at a bus stop and she recommended he join Megaphone.

“It seems to be going good so far,” he says of his experience as a new vendor.

A music lover, James is a drummer and used to teach drums to kids at Larsen Music (now closed). He also wrote a lot of lyrics for songs and poems.

When he fell ill, the music stopped for awhile, but he’s recently been getting back into it. He currently plays with a jazz group and is part of Victoria’s Friends of Music Society.

James also reads quite a bit, with his favourite topics being science, space, psychology and spirituality.

With the rhythm returning to his life and really happy about a new one-bedroom apartment he recently landed, James is looking forward to a promising year.

“I seem to be starting off on a good note,” he says. 

James Hope sells Megaphone outside the London Drugs store at 911 Yates St. in Victoria. 

Get on your megaphone

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