My Bio

My Bio

By Ben Westwood.

I was born on 8th July, 1985 in Norton Canes, Cannock Staffordshire where I spent the first four years of my childhood before moving eight miles away to the former mining town of Rugeley.

By the age of ten I started running away from home where I was soon to be walking from town to town and going missing regularly from anything from a few days for up to two weeks often sleeping rough in nearby towns such as Stafford, Lichfield and Cannock.

I first went into care aged eleven, where within around a year and a half I had three foster placements in Tamworth, Burntwood and Rugeley, Staffordshire.

At the age of twelve whilst living at my third set of foster parents in Rugeley, after more running away and going missing for days and weeks on end, on one particular day I boarded a train to London where I found myself in Whitechapel befriended by other runaways, prostitutes and people with drug addictions.

After being caught several times and running away back to London, I was fostered in Penkridge, Staffordshire as well as living in a children's home in Cannock, Staffordshire.
After some unfortunate events involving a kidnapping, by the age of thirteen I began sleeping rough and begging in London's west end, with my main place of rough-sleeping residence being near Green Park tube station on Piccadilly. (a W1 postcode....I know lol)

Between living on the streets of London as I was also fostered in Aldridge, West Midlands and then whilst slipping into the habit of running away (apparently it was overall around forty times) I then moved into a children's home in Rugeley, Staffordshire  where I was more often than not missing in London and living on the streets.

At the age of sixteen after a six weeks on remand inside a secure unit and a three months inside a young offenders institution, I moved into the YMCA at Aelfgar House, Rugeley, Staffordshire before shortly returning to the streets of London just a few months later.

After deciding I had outlived my time as a rough-sleeping beggar and felt I was missing out on growing up, after a few more months sleeping rough I then moved into a Centrepoint homeless persons hostel in Vauxhall, London.

For the next few years I lived across London where I would spend the next two years or so helping out at raves raves as well as taking my busking (signing and guitar) more seriously.

Since those days I've been a busker and it's how I've met many of my friends.
Despite my past I've always tried to put 110% into every one of my public performances, especially to try and shake off the stigma that buskers are beggars.

In my early twenties I began dabbling around with music software and writing my own songs, but despite others telling me to persist with it and with no real guidance and just winging it,  to date I haven't really got anywhere with my singing and music.

Despite never being released and professionally recorded, I'd say my best song projects were 'Think Beautiful' (2008),  'I Want Love' (2014), 'Change' (2015) and 'For You' (2017)

After moving around the country and living in places such as Scarborough, North Yorkshire - Godshill, Fordingbridge, Wilshire and several places across London, I then moved to the lovely city of Brighton, East Sussex. 

After becoming a father for the first time I then went on to launch a campaign to raise awareness of the rise in gambling addiction and the impacts of roulette machines on the community after falling prey to a gambling addiction.

After raising awareness of the issue on various radio/TV/online shows including Liverpool Community Radio, Channel 4's 4Thought TV, Take A Pew(online)  and the 'What's Up Show' on Pick TV as well as making my own amateur documentaries, I decided to take a break from campaigning on the issue to focus on other areas of my life.

After moving back to Cannock, Staffordshire after many years away from my homelands, it was a pleasure to perform at Hednesford Festival 2016 and 2017.
In late 2016 I started writing my childhood story, all in poetry called 'Poems From a Runaway' in which just over a year later I self published and released on Amazon.

As well as sharing my story with social work bloggers and radio stations, I was also invited to attend a conference on Runaway Children in European Parliament on 6th June, 2018 with Missing Children Europe,  where I shared some of my experiences as well as some poetry from the book.

On 29th June 2018 I'll be sharing my experiences along with another care-leaver with The Moon and Back fostering service at Anglian Ruskin University in Cambridge. 

.Thanks for reading :)


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