Man spent years living on Essex’s streets – now he runs his own business

10 years ago, Lee Strachan was homeless and sleeping rough on the streets of Southend-on-Sea.

Now, he’s a successful businessman with a company worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Throughout his childhood and early twenties, Lee spent time sofa-surfing and sleeping rough across the Southend borough.

Passers by labelled him as a “drug addict” and “alcoholic”, just because he was living on the streets.

Now 32, Lee has overcome his struggles and is the CEO of a successful IT business.

This is the story of his remarkable 10-year turnaround.

A life on the streets

Lee has always had to fend from himself. Even when he was a baby, he spent time living with his mum on the streets.

“I was only a little baby the first time I was on the streets,” he explained.

“From the experiences of what my mother told me, it was not great.

“We lived in a squats den at the time.”

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“The second time I was on the streets, I was made redundant from my old employment which resulted in surrendering the property I rented in Southend opposite The Royals Shopping Centre. I had lived on the streets for two years at this point.

“I also lived in Westcliff for a short period. It was not a great experience relying on others around you to put food in your mouth and to get decent clothes.”

Lee wanted to achieve everything himself, rather than rely on other people.

He added: “I could’ve got help from homeless shelters, but I did not like having to rely on them. I fought with the intent of getting through the struggles myself.

“The struggle to fight for food without committing crimes is real, the struggle to keep warm is real and the struggle of living in a square box and unable to escape is also real.”

Despite his struggles, Lee wanted to earn his own way in the world. He saved up the money he had begged for on the streets to clothe and feed himself which led to his eventual employment at Tesco.

He said: “I went through a process of saving money I earned to dress decently and this led to seeking employment from the Job Centre at the time. Motivation is key.

“I was a believer I did not want to end up how it was back when I was a toddler like my mother. Drive to achieve and drive to successfully obtain employment to get me back on the ladder.”

The abuse he suffered on the streets

Lee claims that people walking by him on the streets would call him a “drug addict” and “alcoholic”.

He said: “I had plenty of stereotyping. some people were nice and helpful then you have the small minority that label and stereotype against homelessness.

“I was subject to abuse and being called a drug addict and alcoholic. I never took drugs and never drank in my life.

“All I did was achieve my goals to get myself back on the ladder – it was a milestone step and I am proud of every step I took and even my past to learn from the worst. I can say I’ve been there and achieved it and got to the very top taking it one step further.

“My dream was to study in IT, something I enjoyed playing computer games to fixing computing equipment in my teens. I always said to my father that I wanted to be the boss when I grow up.

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“And in my IT firm, it grew to the point where it becomes internationally and nationally driven. Now I sit on a stake of investment worth over 480K with several limited companies.”

Lee thinks that anyone can do anything they set their mind to.

He added: “I think homeless people shouldn’t be afraid to speak up, to seek help and knowledge from those that have done it and achieved, like me. Anyone can make it from the bottom to the top if they wanted to.

“It takes courage, pride and the motivational drive to achieve and overcome the fears and risks.

“If you have a goal in life, do it. Anything is possible.”

Essex Live