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Ben Westwood is a care experienced author who uses writing and poetry to voice his stories from when he was a young teen runaway missing from care. In this blog post Ben offers some heartfelt advice to care leavers out there who are new to the care experienced community.

Having written my book ‘Poems From a Runaway’ about my life as a child and young teen runaway missing from care, as part of my promotional efforts to get the word out there I got on Twitter, which was where I was soon to meet the ‘care experienced’ community. (#CEP) During my journey I even attended the Care Experienced Conference in Liverpool with hundreds of other care leavers and social workers, many of which were actively working hard on making change in policy to improve the experience of the next generations of children in care.

There’s many people out there that may not have even realised that if they’d typed in ‘care leavers’ or ‘care experienced’ or experimented further on a social media search bars that they’d find a treasure trove of individuals and organisations networking together, many of which grew up in the care system.

With around 25% of people experiencing homelessness in the UK having also experienced being in care as a young person, as well as around 27% of the adult prison population, I’m more than well aware of the many care leavers out there still navigating though life with no real advice, support or framework around them.

Many care leavers are more than well aware of the countless hospital visits alone, isolated Christmas’s and the feeling of pushing the worlds biggest boulder up a hill whilst seeing everybody else pass on by with ease. But wait, I want to tell those people that they’re really not alone.

For instance, a fantastic organisation that I’ve come across that’s really helped me when I’ve been in dire need of it was The Rees Foundation, an organisation that supports care leavers that I never knew had existed until I’d discovered the care experienced stuff on social media.

However, I have written previous posts that have been about how I still feel generally that a significant percentage of care leavers are generally unspoken for, of which many young people travelling the roads that I’ve been down myself may feel that the only help available to them is their local homeless day centre or outreach services. How many of us are completely off the radar and being exploited? Just sayin!

If it wasn’t for writing the book and getting on Twitter, the concept of even typing ‘help for care leavers’ or even thinking there’d be any sort of advice online had felt worlds away for me. It’s not exactly a conversation that everyone’s having, and in many ways I feel privileged to have found both The Rees Foundation and other organisations and collectives alike, as well as the care leaver groups that I’ve come across both online and offline in the past.

There’s been a few Walter Mitty infiltrators try to invade a few of the care leaver Facebook groups and stuff before, the usual trying to scam people for money ect, but admins of such collectives are largely experienced at this point at working out who is genuine or not.

But if you’re a genuine care leaver and didn’t realise that there was help and support out there through care leaver charities and organisations, then for those feeling like they could do with that bit of familiar connectivity and support then it’s all out there if you go searching for it.

If you’re one of the many care leavers that are completely new to this concept of a ‘care experienced’ community and you have any questions, then feel free to message me on Twitter and I’ll try to help or point you in the right direction as best I can.


This blog was originally posted on Ben’s website, you can access it here, to read Ben’s other content click here.

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