A Somali mother and son have been living on a high street bench for three years after turning down two-bedroom council flats in London.Wandsworth Council has desperately tried to rehouse them and offered the pair two refurbished properties in Tooting, south west London, which typically cost £1,500 a month.But they chose to remain on bench despite last-ditch pleas from their family and members of the local Somali community.The mother and son have been homeless since December 2014 when they were evicted from the flat they shared in Tooting. It is thought a death in family and a period of hospitalisation led to them living on the streets.
They spent time on a different bench outside TK Maxx further down Tooting High Street ,but it seems the family members have now found a new spot directly outside the local library.Photographs show son urinating up against the library wall and the pair sitting on the bench throughout day before they finally pull a tarpaulin over them just after midnight.By 10.30am, they are both usually awake and they typically have a honey sandwich 30 minutes later.Throughout day, the mother, who is believed to be in her 60s, speaks to people as they walk past and her son, thought to be in his 20s, sits next to her on the bench.Residents who live in the area often give the pair food and water, before mother and son pull a tarpaulin sheet over their heads to keep warm through the night, with their belongings stacked under and beside bench.
A DAY IN LIFE OF MOTHER AND SON WHO HAVE SET UP CAMP OUTSIDE A PUBLIC LIBRARY IN LONDON
10.30am:Mother and her son wake up
10.45am: The son, believed to be in his 20s, urinates in corner up against the Tooting Library
11am: The pair enjoy breakfast, which typically consists of a honey sandwich
Noon: They drink takeaway coffees and the son listens to his MP3 player
1pm: The mother goes into library when it opens and the pair then go for a walk
2pm: The son goes and collects their lunch of chicken and chips
2.45pm: The woman goes for a walk and he reads a book under his umbrella
4.20pm: He has an afternoon nap
7pm: They share a coffee
8pm: He sprays himself with deodorant and she applies hand and face cream
9pm: The son collects more chicken for them to eat
10.30pm: The mother falls asleep and he listens to his MP3 player
Midnight: The tarpaulin goes over and they both sleep
On one particular Sunday, Around noon, he listened to his MP3 player and they went for a walk after eating chicken and chips together.After napping, mother applied hand a face cream and was asleep by 10.30pm while he stayed up and listened to music. At midnight, he pulled the tarpaulin over the pair and they both fell asleep.Back in 2014, couple were evicted from their property in Tooting back after failing to pay their rent and have been on the street ever since.A source told that charities, members of their family, the police and people from the local Somali community have all failed to get them off the bench.The most recent property they have been offered was just off Tooting High Street and two bed properties typically cost £1,500 per calendar month.It comes with a newly-fitted kitchen and bathroom, but the couple declined the offer and prefer to remain on bench.The council described the situation as being a ‘difficult and complex case’ and told the mother and son ‘will not accept any offers’.
A Wandsworth Council spokesman ‘This is a very difficult and complex case involving two people who simply will not accept any of offers of help they have received from the many different agencies and charities who have been involved in trying to find a solution to this problem.’The council offered them two very pleasant and fully refurbished two-bedroom flats in Tooting that they could have moved into straight away ,but they turned both down without even looking at them.’If people refuse to accept offers of help then that is their decision and their choice. We cannot force people to accept our help.’Since this issue arose we have repeatedly tried to engage with them but these efforts have all been rebuffed.’We have enlisted the help of their extended family and representatives of local Somali community, but no-one has been able to persuade them to come in off the streets.’We are of course enormously concerned for their welfare and are continuing to closely monitor the situation and offer support in hope that they change their minds.’