Ben Westwood is a musician, writer, poet, author and campaigner for children’s/human rights. Ben spent his teenage years bouncing between the streets of London and foster placements and children’s homes. Throughout his journey Ben always had a passion for making music and singing he can sometimes be found busking on the streets as well as the odd live performance in a bar or cafe venue.
As well as music and poetry, he always had a keen interest in human rights and community/society welfare which most likely has spawned from his early 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 he wrote his childhood story ‘Poems From a Runaway’ and self-published it a year later. Ben now lectures about the issues of homelessness with social workers, safeguarding organisations and missing children’s charities.
Poems from a Runaway. is Ben Westwood’s collection of 60 true-story poems about being a teenager in care and a frequent runaway from the West Midlands.
Follow him on a journey from ten years old, wandering from town to town before eventually at the age of twelve, finding himself in the east end of London with drug addicts and prostitutes. A year later he was to be sleeping rough in London’s West end, meeting celebrities and all sorts of folk. It’s a story with many tragedies, but also comedic moments. Choices that would have only been made with a youngsters thinking and angels along the way. Predators, friends, heart-warming times and dangerous moments. Hustles, wind-ups and the way young people entertain themselves along the way. Some moments in life that some may never had knew existed. A collection of sixty poems of various lengths, leading the reader through the reality of this true-story childhood journey. Not only a great read and an eye-opener for general book and poetry lovers, but also a great resource for foster parents, social workers, mental health support services, homeless services, child advocates and care leavers.
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
It’s a great pleasure to welcome Ben to the blog to learn about the writing of his non-fiction true life account written in poetry.
Tell us your journey as a writer.
I began writing a book in 2016, which was about my childhood growing up, being in care and living on the streets of London from twelve years old as a missing child runaway.
I’d been thinking of writing a book for a few years, but when I once wrote a poem, which was a memoir from my times living rough in central London, I decided that I’d write a whole book in the same poetry style.
After much work on my book project, I successfully self-published it and promoted it on facebook and twitter, speaking to and meeting heaps of great people doing great things in the process.
What made you choose to write about care experience?
I wanted to shed light on what it was like living in children’s homes and foster care, and try to get the reader the gain more understanding of some of the sometimes overlooked thoughts, feelings and experiences of young people in care.
Do you have any personal experience with the care system, fostering, childrens homes etc?
Yes. I was fostered for the first time at around ten years old, and went on to live in around a further four foster placements and four children’s homes across Staffordshire.
Even though I’ve always felt the sense that people that grew up in care get stereotyped, but it was when promoting the book and networking with other care leavers that I began to explore and understand how much stigma there is towards children in care and care leavers.
What is the meaning of the title?
Poems from a Runaway – Does exactly what it says on the tin.
What are you currently working on? What can we look forward to reading.
Not so long ago I released two other books. One is a poetry book called ‘Welcome To Leatheton’ which is the first of a poetry series set in the fictional English town of Leatheton, and celebrated working class culture and diversity. The other is called ‘How Not To Fit Up a Squatter – When Stitch Up’s Go Wrong’ and is a short story book based on my real life events of being framed under a misleading charge, but proving that the allegations were ‘bodged’ by producing a voice recording of the event in court, in the end the police got sacked. I wrote the book to give people confidence that justice can prevail if you believe in yourself.
Follow Ben on Twitter: @FractalMoon1