Campaigner, writer, blogger, care-leaver, musician and author of Poems From a Runaway

With a keen interest in homeless, children's and care-leavers rights, missing children, mental health as well as societies values and this complex thing we call the human mind.

Poems From a Runaway

Front cover.jpg

For personally-signed 350-page editions printed on thicker paper with colour photos - Please visit my latest crowdfunder at 

 

https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/careexperiencedsocialworker

Personally-signed 350-page editions printed on thicker paper with colour photos are available from my crowdfunder at 

 

https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/careexperiencedsocialworker

At the late end of 2017 I self-published my first ever book - Poems From a Runaway.

It really is more than simply just a poetry book (and everyone that has read it has been pleasantly surprised) - it is in fact my childhood story of being a runaway from ten years old and living rough on the streets of London from twelve written as a 'novel in poetry'.

It's written from the perspective of the then-young, naive and upbeat me and explains as a young person from an unsettled family - why I made many of the choices I did - and as I take the reader also on my journey through the care system it has been successful in helping social workers gain more insight into the world of a young person in care.

Without rewriting the whole book on this page - In a nutshell my journey will take you through the eyes of child confused to whom his real father is and to my first overnight runaway experience sleeping in a ditch at ten years old whilst watching the helicopter that is looking for me.

 

From there I was hitch-hiking around the West Midlands and sleeping in parks, public toilets and car parks. After going into care, I stopped running away - but a decision made by social services was to completely unsettle me again and at my third foster home I ran away to London at the age of Eleven years old where in Whitechapel, East London, I met another teenage runaway - a young girl only a year older than myself.



After getting caught by the police and taken back to the West Midlands, I soon returned to London again. Despite social services knowing I could be in Whitechapel, I explain in my book how I stayed undetected by the authorities by using a fake cockney accent and alias - Toby Sycamore.

I also share my memories of some of the characters I remember from those days on Whitechapel Road.

Before I turned thirteen years old I was kidnapped, and after managing to escape I fled to live on the streets in Central London where I slept rough and begged in and around places such as Green Park, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square among other places.



Despite my book containing some perhaps shocking and traumatic events, there's plenty of light-hearted humour in the book also - for instance the very first piece I wrote for the book was a poem about being thirteen years old and walking into the Sports Cafe on Haymarket and pretending to be a Walsall FC footballer which led to me getting a load of free drinks - and another about selling second-hand newspapers from behind a disused stand. 

 

As well as sharing my journey through more foster placements and children's homes - I also share how I was visiting homeless day centers from twelve years old, evading the police even whilst getting stopped by them, selling the Big Issue at thirteen and how I was shocking ignored by the passing public when I hadn't eaten or slept for many weeks, or when I had become severely ill.

 

I could go on forever, but those that have read my 300+ page book say that they've done so with ease and that not being able to put the book down has certainly helped.

There's no doubt in my mind whatsoever that if this had been taken on by traditional publishers and literary agents that this book could have been a real big hit seller. 
I knew it was risky writing this book in poetry, it doesn't fit into a genre like most and most people might have a false impression of what this book actually is until they have read it.

Despite the rejection from literary agents I ploughed on and hammered away emailing missing people's charities, social work unions and foster care providers which is currently taking me on a journey that I'm enjoying.

 

In June 2018, I was invited to read some of my book and share my experiences at a conference on runaways at European Parliament in Brussels alongside the European Parliament Children's Rights Manifesto group and Missing Children Europe.

 

It's also been great to collaborate with 'To The Moon And Back Fostering' to present talks with social work students and lecturers as well as foster carers at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge - as well as other social work and safeguarding providers around the country, with some more events coming up in the near future. 
 

None of this would have been possible without the support from my friends on social media, and for those that don't know, this entire project has come about through crowdfunding. 
It certainly wasn't an easy feat - but due to the kindness of a few great souls as well as support on social media from both - we did it.

 

Deciding to write my book in poetry was somewhat inspired from reading an old A.A. Milne book I used to pick up out of the toy box as kid - so if you like that, then you might also like my book.
However, it's still largely in a somewhat unique category of it's very own.

 

It's unlikely to be picked up and read by enough people to become a bestseller, but those owning a copy know they have a rare and special book in their hands.

 





 

"Reading this book was a life changing experience. ..really opened my eyes about the rough life of the people living on the streets" - Amazon Review

"I have a lot of difficulty reading as I am autistic but this kept me glued to the page" - Amazon Review

"Fantastic book. A true and moving account of a young boys start in life, as a past foster carer this brought tears to my eyes." - Amazon Review

"Fantastic insight to what it's like for a child running away from care! Written with humour and a real good read!! Would thoroughly recommend it!! Brilliant book!" - Amazon review

 

VIDEOS

 
 

About me

I was born in 1985 in Norton Canes, Cannock in Staffordshire before moving to the nearby small former-mining town of Rugeley.

From the age of ten years old I was running away from home and going missing from several days to weeks at a time whilst sleeping rough and wandering around Staffordshire.


I spent my teenage years from twelve years old bouncing between the streets of London and foster placements and children's homes across Staffordshire including Rugeley, Cannock, Lichfield, Tamworth, Burntwood and Aldridge among other places.

Throughout my journey I've always had a passion for making music and singing which began since I started singing 'Shaggy - Angel' on a £20 Argos guitar aged 8 - , and today I can sometimes be found busking on the streets as well as the odd live performance in a bar or cafe venue.

I've always had a keen interest in human rights and community/society welfare which most likely has spawned from my years living on the streets and seeing both the great love that some people can have for others - and the need for more of it out there. 

In 2016 I wrote my childhood story 'Poems From a Runaway' and self-published it a year later which I now read to social workers, safeguarding and missing children's charities and is for sale on Amazon.

 
 

 

CONTACT

For performance, event talks or any other enquiries contact-  benwestwooduk@gmail.com 

 

We Are Born
By Ben Westwood

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