I started running away from home in Staffordshire at around age nine and going missing for weeks on end. I was sleeping in parks and in toilet cubicles.
I went into care foster care, where for a while I was settled and content, but was been moved from a placement I’d been really happy at.
By age 12 I had run away to London, where I was hanging around with drug addicts and prostitutes around Whitechapel and Brick Lane and the girl I knew better than anyone. She was 13, from Poplar but had run away from her foster home in Kent.
I would keep getting taken back to the Midlands after getting caught by police. I moved foster homes a lot. One time after I was brought back I found out my friend had been taken into a secure unit. After then, I was then sort of on my own. I ended up befriending someone who kidnapped me and held up with a machete, but I managed to flee.
From there, I lived on the streets of London, specifically Victoria, where I lived at the steps of the Apollo Theatre at the age of 13. At one point I was befriended again and given whisky which I now think was spiked. This led to attempt sexual abuse but I managed to escape from this. After that I would live rough on Piccadilly, all the while getting caught, getting taken back and running off again.
As far as I remember, I spent about two thirds of my time between the ages of 11 and 16, missing.
An update about how my life turned around
It was down to will of homeless services, brilliant key workers and few bright friends along the way
My life still isn’t so perfect and to this day I still go through many of same experiences and emotions that i did back then.
But really there’s one word I need to mention, and that’s music, I wouldn’t be who I am today without my song writing, expression and being able to jam one out.
Music, Love , Exercise and keeping my brain stimulated were my key ingredients.
I have written a book about it, in poetry, containing sixty poems. It’s called ‘Poems from a Runaway’ and you can view 14 of them online at http://benwestwooduk.blogspot.co.uk/p/poems-from-runaway.html