Scotsman overcomes drug addiction and homelessness to start crime scene clean-up business

A man from Balloch who overcame homelessness and drug addiction explained how he successfully started a crime scene cleaning business with just £ 40 in my pocket.

At worst, Steven Murray, 39, was sleeping on the streets of Glasgow begging £ 10 a day to feed his heroin habit.

He became addicted to drugs at the age of 14 following the suicide of his best friend and spent the next 15 years in a downward spiral.

Today, he’s a proud dad and skilled forensic cleaner who works alongside his high school girlfriend Lisa and helps hundreds of struggling drug addicts by organizing a free support group he started. during locking.

He said Glasgow Live: “It was absolutely the worst time of my life – but I chose this path. I am not a bad person but I made bad choices.

“I spent nights looking for a warm place to sleep. If you walked around the back of the shops on Sauchiehall Street there was a fan blowing hot air, you could sit and snuggle there- down. But it was really rare that no one was already there.

“Usually I would sleep with a bit of cardboard on me. It was awful to know it was my own loss.

“Every morning I woke up, the pain hit me. I used to cry. I needed £ 10 a day of heroin just to feel normal. If I didn’t have it, I felt like I had the flu. My guts were jostling. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I hated.”

Steven was given a place to stay at Blue Triangle Service Unit in Alexandria between 2008 and 2011. Noticing his charm and gossip, the staff helped him find a job as a Big Issue magazine seller in nearby Dumbarton in 2010.

Steven with his two seven-year-old children Steven and Mylie, born 10 months apart

He remembers buying 15 magazines at 70p each and selling them for £ 1.50 which earned him enough to buy his fix for the day.

But as he sold more magazines he started to treat it like a business.

“At first it was to fund my drug use, I won’t lie,” he said. “I was like, ‘If I can do it, at least I won’t hurt anyone or steal. I do my own thing.

“But as I made more money, I started to see it as my own small investment.

“One night I knew I needed four more pounds for my meds the next day. But a voice in my head said ‘No buy your magazines, get more money and food in your belly.’ The next day, I sold a few dozen, going back and forth to the office.

“I loved this job because it gave me a little purpose of getting up, going out, meeting people and talking to clients. The Big Issue saw me as more than just a drug addict. “

Steven and Lisa on their wedding day in 2013
Steven and Lisa on their wedding day in 2013

Feeling like a “changed man,” Steven reconnected with his school friend Lisa in 2010 and the couple started dating – but a brief hit three months later saw him end up in a five-day lullaby. , taking “hundreds” of street valium.

In January 2011, he was brought to Dumbarton Sheriff Court for possession of drugs and offensive weapons.

“I don’t remember those five days, and I felt like I had just woken up in front of the dock,” he said.

“The judge said, ‘I was going to give you six months in jail today, if it wasn’t for the people standing behind you. I turned around and my mom and Lisa were there. J burst into tears.

“That day Lisa gave me an ultimatum; it was her or the drugs. I never touched another opioid again.”

After a difficult two-year road to recovery, Steven turned his life around – he married Lisa in 2013 and had two more children and became the stepfather to his two older children, aged 22 and 20.

In 2018, Steven landed a job at a car dealership while working as a car valet, but after 18 months he realized he was miserable.

He took the plunge and resigned on the spot, leaving £ 40 in his pocket to cover food, bills and rent just months before Christmas in 2019.

“When I walked through the front door, I thought, ‘What have I done? What can I do now? “

“I told Lisa that I wanted to start my own cleaning business and she said she would support me all the way.

Steven and Lisa on vacation with their children
Steven and Lisa on vacation with their children

“I took the last of those £ 40 and went straight to Poundland to buy cleaning supplies and let it be known that I was cleaning the cars. It all grew from there – and we managed to save Christmas. “

Lisa, who was previously a hotel cleaner, joined her husband’s business when the kids started school in 2019. The couple then decided to take their business to the next level: biohazard cleaning. .

They ‘saved and saved’ for a crash training course with the National Academy of Crime Scene Cleaners in Wales, where they learned how to clean up forensic scenes such as suicides and unintentional deaths.

The Eco-clean The team is now available 24/7 to support the Scottish Police as well as covid calls for businesses across Scotland.

Steven said his ambition was influenced by the trauma of seeing his best friends’ devastated parents cleaning his room after his death.

“It was a horrible time – I came home and it was sealed off. I had laughed and joked with him the night before and now he was gone.

“Seeing his mom and dad cleaning up crying really stuck with me. I couldn’t believe they would have to do this.

“People ask me how I do it. I want to take this pain away from people. We want to leave a loved one’s home as family members will remember. We are proud to help people like this.

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More than ever, Steven wants to help people like him in his community get back on their feet.

Last year he and Lisa started an online group for vulnerable residents struggling with addiction and mental health issues in West Dunbartonshire.

He also employs people like him who have struggled with drug addiction and homelessness in the past.

He said: “I remember how it was; no one would touch me with a job. I wanted to give people a chance that a lot of others wouldn’t. And they changed their lives.

“They feel good, get up in the morning to go to work. They can buy things for themselves. One of the boys even passed his driver’s license.

“There’s this stigma and stereotype around people who use drugs that shouldn’t be there. We’re all human. We all make mistakes.

“I would probably be dead by now if someone hadn’t believed in me. Everyone deserves a second chance.”

Learn more about the support group West Dunbartonshire Addiction Recovery and Mental Health Support (WARM).

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