'I was a lost boy who took the wrong path': Founder of organisation feeding families in lockdown speaks out about his criminal past
He was first given a custodial sentence at just 13 years old and spent more than a decade in and out of prison before turning his life around and helping to feed the community in lockdown.
Coming from a troubled home, Chris Murray had spent most of his childhood and teenage years committing crimes with his friends around Blackburn, Bolton and Burnley.
He had lost his dad at a young age to drug overdose and was forced to live in an environment battling poverty and alcoholism.
It was a life that would lead him down a path of crime from a young age and see him banged up behind bars at a young offenders institute aged just 13.
It was when he defied the odds and founded the Here for Humanity organisation, helping feed struggling families through lockdown, that he encountered people who tried to use his troubled past to drag him down.
In one particular ordeal, Chris said that 10-page leaflets were printed out and delivered to sponsors and businesses who work closely with his charitable organisation, in a bid to ruin his reputation.
Speaking out about his past to the Post, he said: "It is not the first time this has happened, but I won't let people use my past against me. Since coming out of prison the last time a few years ago, I have been working so hard to transform my life, start a family and help other people.
"People who have been close to my organisation over the past year have been bitter and thrown my past in front of me to cause problems and ruin my reputation with our sponsors and businesses that we work with.
"I would love to say it hasn't had an effect on me, but I would be lying. There have been businesses that I haven't heard from since they read about my past, but it is important that people know who I am today and what I am trying to do for my community.
"I was a lost boy who took a wayward path because I had nothing to strive for. My past is not something I hide from people and I am very open about it, but I don't like people throwing it in my face and using it against me."
Chris spent his younger years living in a house with no food in the fridge, and would regularly be out on the streets trying to find his next meal.
It was a lifestyle that took him down the path of antisocial behaviour and crime, as he attempted to rob a woman's car at knifepoint in 2013 and was re-jailed a few years later after climbing onto the roof of a Blackburn pub and threatening police officers with a meat cleaver.
But through work with psychologists whilst serving his sentence, it became clear that his difficult past had played a large role in his behaviour, as he was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, psychosis and childhood schizophrenia.
And after spending almost five years working and integrating himself back into society and starting a new family with partner Kirsty, Chris began cooking extra portions of his meals for elderly neighbours who were isolating in lockdown.
12 months on, and the Here for Humanity organisation is continuing to grow and help struggling families in food poverty with an army of volunteers, having now donated more than 130,000 bags of food and received £10,000 in lottery funding as they run their new premises in Ashton.
Father-of-five Chris added: "I was a lost boy who just had nothing. As I got older, my mental health played a huge part in it. I had such a turbulent up and down history and had even attempted suicide.
"Over the years I have just tried so hard to be a good person. I got enjoyment out of being nice and looking out for people in the community and at first, tried to keep my head down and just live a normal life.
"Since being released I have spent years just living a normal life going to work and paying my taxes. Nobody regrets my past more than me but I saw no other life and had no positive influences around me.
"I was working nine to five every day and rehabilitated into a family man. It was when lockdown started that I began helping out elderly people and it just grew and grew from there and now I am so proud of what we have achieved."
Chris also works closely with the JJ Effect youth club, which aims to educate young people about the dangers of knife crime with Byron Highton, whose brother JonJo was stabbed to death.
Support the work of the Here for Humanity organisation from their Facebook page.
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