Do you know any of these people? Help reunite Ben with the real-life characters from his debut true-story book!

Former runaway street-kid seeks reunions with those part of his real-life story from around two decades ago.

Care leaver and former runaway street-kid Ben Westwood is on a mission to reunite with some of the characters featured in his true-story novel in poetry – Poems From a Runaway.

From the age of nine, Ben found himself wandering across Staffordshire and the West Midlands walking from town to town before eventually living on the streets of London at the age of thirteen years old.
Ben also writes about his journey through the care system living with foster parents and in children’s homes, and hopes to reunite with some of the people from his past.

However, not all of the people that had made an impact on Ben’s reality whilst he lived on the streets would have knew that he was a runaway.

“I had told most of the people that I met whilst living on the streets that I was around seventeen to nineteen years old, when in fact I would have been twelve to fifteen.
I thought it was best to not get caught by using a fake name, and they wouldn’t have even known me as Ben” he explains.

“Some of the people that I’d met whilst living on the streets had made a real impact to who I’ve grew up to be. Some really were like real-life angels, and looking back I often think without them poking their noses into my life, how lonely it could have been growing up.

Featured in his book and hoping to reunite with them are the following.

A nurse from Great Haywood in Staffordshire, that had picked Ben up one morning after it had rained and he decided to give himself up whilst being missing for two days.
He wants to say thanks!

A Londoner from the east end, that had fell victim to Ben’s need to cure boredom after he’d found a free dateline number and for a joke had pretended to be a woman from London.
However the prank had got out of hand after one guy had sent a voice message back and Ben actually got the man to wait outside for ‘her’ at a train station.

Ben saw the man waiting outside of Bow Road station and ended up claiming to be the non-existent woman’s brother and saying she had sent him to meet her because she was stuck.
After boarding a bus with him and chatting, he eventually ran off no explanation.
Ben wants to apologise to the man and possibly have a chinwag and a laugh about it.

He also wants to give a special thanks to one particular member of staff from a children’s home he lived at in Staffordshire.
“I’d really like to say a massive thanks to Adrian, one of the staff that had invested his time into teaching me to play guitar.
I think he was from Stafford or maybe Stoke-on-trent, I can’t quite remember, but he appeared to me in a dream a year or so ago and I’d really like to say thanks to him, he’s a top geezer”

Featured on a 7news video in Miami, Ben is also trying to find a family from Plantation in Florida.
Whilst being around fourteen years old and sleeping rough near Green Park underground station, Ben met a family that befriended him, brought him clothes and invited him back to their hotel for hot showers and food.

It was indeed a special moment for him, on the day the family left for their taxi back to the airport.
With the mother of the family crying and stating to Ben that meeting him had made her holiday more worthwhile than visiting the tourist attractions, it was indeed a memory that he finds hard to forget.

Despite his story being somewhat tragic at times, it wasn’t without it’s comedic moments and short-lived romances too.
“I do feel really bad for the three of the four girls I’d briefly dated during my time living on the streets. Only one of them ever knew my true age and the others were all adults, whilst I was around fourteen or fifteen.
It wasn’t that I’d intended to lie about my age, just that I didn’t want to get caught or dobbed in as a runaway” he states.

Ben would like to give his apologies to at least two of the women, who would be in their late thirties by now.
One was a student nurse studying in Nottingham, and living by the Nottingham Forest football stadium at the time. He met her online in Yahoo chat rooms whilst Ben would escape from the cold weather inside 24hr internet cafes.

He also wrote a poem about meeting a girl from Nuneaton whilst sleeping rough on London’s Piccadilly.
His poem hints at him laughing at his memory in hindsight, whilst describing that she fled out of the hotel window after ordering him to go into the shower as he’d not washed for weeks.

He goes on to explain -“She had light red hair and I might be wrong but perhaps some mild learning difficulties. She’s said she was from Nuneaton I think, although it’s possible I’ve had a miss memory and got it mixed up with Sutton Coldfield. I really need to clear this one up or I’ve made a huge error in my book.
She was nineteen when we met and would be in her late-thirties by now.

Ben had also met Matt and James, two members of the band ‘Busted’ after they had taken him off the street into their hotel one night shortly before they were famous and has written a poem about it inside the book. He would love to say hello and confess that he was a runaway!

Last but not least, an Australian hairdresser working in Mayfair at the time.
She took Ben in when he was around late-fourteen but before he knew it, he’d got himself wrapped up in a double bluff.

The Australian woman’s name is Lia, and Ben believes she may have told him that she was from Melbourne.
She’d befriended Ben whilst he was begging and sleeping rough on London’s Piccadilly, and invited him to stay on the sofa at their house.

Ben didn’t tell Lia that he was a young runaway, but to stop her housemates worrying about picking someone up from the streets she’d asked him to tell them he was the handyman at her hairdressers.
After a few days it was revealed that Lia had taken Ben off the street, but none of them ever knew the true story that he was a runaway.

He states Lia and her friends that lived in Cricklewood were an important part in shedding some light and warm moments in what was otherwise a lonely and confusing time for him growing up.

If you think you may know any of the people featured in ‘Poems From A Runaway’ or this article, or can help reunite Ben with them then you can email him directly at

Ben is also currently accepting media coverage requests.

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