During 2017, tinkering away on his laptop and scribbling notes for most of the year was 33 year-old Ben Westwood, a former child runaway.
He was writing his debut book ‘Poems From a Runaway’ , which is a collection of sixty stories about his life until the age of 16 years old.
Sleeping in ditches and car parks from ten years old was his life before he found himself in London whilst missing at the age of 12.
After a series of shocking events, by 13 he was sleeping rough outside Victoria station before becoming a somewhat permanent W1 resident on London’s Piccadilly.
Whilst there he slept in doorways and mingled with the homeless, often begging to survive.
He fibbed his way into day centres, and even managed to get into hostels for a night or two here and there until it was time to make a benefit claim, which of course he couldn’t do.
Despite certainly being a hard-hitting and somewhat unique childhood story containing moments that include sleep-deprivation, extreme hunger and even kidnappings – those of you expecting the sounds of violin music and calls for sympathy, this simply isn’t one of those books.
And for those thinking it’s a poetry book, it’s not really that either.
Westwood accredits some of his inspiration and style of the book to the early work of A.A.Milne of which he himself used to read as a young child.
But Poems From a Runaway itself is written in the perspective of the then young person confused by people and society.
Be prepared to be laughing one minute, and completely surprised the next as Ben takes you through his journey in a style which those that have read it since its initial release say is somewhat addictive and a book that’s hard to put down.
Ben’s efforts of writing about a somewhat hidden and unspoken world haven’t gone unnoticed.
On 6th June he was invited to speak about his experiences alongside the European Missing Children umbrella charity at a conference on runaways at European Parliament in Brussels.
On 29th June he also spoke for 90 minutes with a group of over thirty social work students, lecturers and foster parents at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge and has another event coming up on 16th July with social workers in Somerset.
With no literary agent, publisher or manager Ben has funded his self-published book through his own money and through donations from his friends.
With only just over 100 colour copies ever printed, and with a new ‘typo-free’ edition coming out he’s launched a crowdfunding campaign to sell pre-orders of the new version to fund his venture to get Poems From a Runaway finally into bookshops.
“I don’t have savings or anyone to lend me a couple of grand, so if I can sell enough pre-orders of paperbacks or hardbacks through my crowdfunder then I can actually be in the position to have books always in stock to sell and supply bookshops” he states.
His Crowdfunder is already live and runs until 12 midday on 14th August and he is hoping to raise at least £2500 to get his book venture set up.
You can find out more through the crowdfunder page at
You can contact Ben Westwood directly by emailing [email protected]