Calls to help Somali family living on bench outside Tooting TK Maxx

Local Somalis told the Wandsworth Guardian the family had been there for 4 months

Local Somalis told the Wandsworth Guardian the family had been there for 4 months

First published in News
Last updated
Wandsworth Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Chief reporter

Serious concerns have been raised after a Somali family spent four months living on a high street bench.

The pair, understood to be mother and son, have centered their lives around the bench outside TK Maxx, in the busy Tooting High Street.

Wandsworth Guardian:

They have multiple suitcases around them, a sun-lounger and a stool, and the lady, thought to be in her 60s, is often seen sheltering herself under an umbrella.

Each night the family is seen huddled under sleeping bags, sometimes cuddled up to one another.

Her son, thought to be in his late 20s, looks after his mother who spends most of her time on the bench.

Tens of thousands of cars drive past them each day, as well as shoppers. Locals from both the Somali community and others have stopped to offer them help, food and accommodation.

However, they have so far refused help and offers from the council for a roof over their heads.

The Wandsworth Guardian approached the pair, with a lady fluent in both English and Somali, to try to talk to them. However, attempts to engage were rebuffed.

What is known of the woman’s story is that she previously lived in Battersea and her husband died a few years ago.

It is understood his body was left for an extensive amount of time in the home and, following his death, the woman spent a considerable period in hospital.

Local Somalis, who have spoken to the pair, said the woman did not want temporary accommodation she had been offered but wanted to return to what she had before - a council house.

A local Somali, who asked not to be named, said: "I feel sorry for her. I wish somebody could help them. She feels the whole world is against her. I said ‘how do you survive at night?’ she believes she is safe.

"Why don’t they accept help? They are losing weight.

"She feels like: ‘I go into hospital and you take my home away from me'. She wasn’t warned - just went to hospital. Heartbroken.

"Relatives put her in hospital and she doesn’t trust anybody. He looks after her - she was sleeping on his lap the other night.

"She looks in pain sometimes. She has sore legs. She needs help - to go to the doctors."

Wandsworth Guardian:

The pair huddled up under blankets at night

It is not known how the pair get food or look after themselves but there have been reports of them using the local traders’ toilets.

A spokesman for Wandsworth Council said: "We are fully aware of this issue and have repeatedly tried to engage with the people concerned and offer them help and a proper roof over their heads but sadly all these efforts have been rebuffed.

"Unfortunately they are quite adamant that they do not want any help or support from us, nor from the other agencies who have also been trying very hard to support and assist them.

Wandsworth Guardian:

The pair are positioned in a busy shopping area 

"We have been in touch with their extended family and also with representatives of the local Somali community in a bid to improve the situation, but sadly it remains unresolved.

"We are of course concerned for their welfare but unfortunately if they are determined not to accept any support then that is their choice and ultimately their right.

"We will of course continue to closely monitor the situation and continue to offer our support and assistance in the hope that they change their minds."

Comments (24)

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12:06pm Thu 7 Aug 14

manic monday says...

surely something should be done to help them get out of that undignified situation?
I am very surprised to read about them "refusing" help from the local council.
How about getting someone who is also somalian to talk with them and hopefully persuade them to accept the help offered from Wandsworth council?
something needs to be done to help them.
surely something should be done to help them get out of that undignified situation? I am very surprised to read about them "refusing" help from the local council. How about getting someone who is also somalian to talk with them and hopefully persuade them to accept the help offered from Wandsworth council? something needs to be done to help them. manic monday
  • Score: -24

12:08pm Thu 7 Aug 14

buggsie says...

Surely there must be plenty of flights to their country of origin.
Surely there must be plenty of flights to their country of origin. buggsie
  • Score: 36

1:12pm Thu 7 Aug 14

mr-bjp says...

"The woman did not want temporary accommodation she had been offered but wanted to return to what she had before - a council house." That sentence says it all and is exactly as I expected. There are thousands of others in the same situation. Do they think they are special? If they don't like what they can be offered the door back to where they came from is always open.
"The woman did not want temporary accommodation she had been offered but wanted to return to what she had before - a council house." That sentence says it all and is exactly as I expected. There are thousands of others in the same situation. Do they think they are special? If they don't like what they can be offered the door back to where they came from is always open. mr-bjp
  • Score: 47

4:42pm Thu 7 Aug 14

Jimmyzola says...

There's lots of people sleeping rough what's new?
There's lots of people sleeping rough what's new? Jimmyzola
  • Score: 27

5:55pm Thu 7 Aug 14

manic monday says...

buggsie wrote:
Surely there must be plenty of flights to their country of origin.
Yes.
But I am giving them the benefit of doubt Buggsie by assuming they came here legally.
[quote][p][bold]buggsie[/bold] wrote: Surely there must be plenty of flights to their country of origin.[/p][/quote]Yes. But I am giving them the benefit of doubt Buggsie by assuming they came here legally. manic monday
  • Score: -11

6:01pm Thu 7 Aug 14

manic monday says...

Jimmyzola wrote:
There's lots of people sleeping rough what's new?
Yes
but I doubt Many sleep on public benches Jimmy?
That's what makes this case outstanding I Think.
and that this mother and Son are refusing to accept support from the local council
I'm very puzzled about that?
doesn't make sense To Me.
Why would anyone choice to rough it out on the streets of wands worth when they could be Living in a bedsit for the meantime which is surely better than Living a bench on the streets?
[quote][p][bold]Jimmyzola[/bold] wrote: There's lots of people sleeping rough what's new?[/p][/quote]Yes but I doubt Many sleep on public benches Jimmy? That's what makes this case outstanding I Think. and that this mother and Son are refusing to accept support from the local council I'm very puzzled about that? doesn't make sense To Me. Why would anyone choice to rough it out on the streets of wands worth when they could be Living in a bedsit for the meantime which is surely better than Living a bench on the streets? manic monday
  • Score: -2

6:09pm Thu 7 Aug 14

BRITJOBSFORBRITPEOP says...

they don't look like they are losing weight to me
and considering they have come from Somali that bench must be heaven to sleep on
if It was not you would take whatever house flat hotel that you was offered
they are just trying to play the system and will get there own way in the end
that is what makes me sick about this country why should they get there way when so many people born here are homeless
you go sleep on the street in Somali and see what help they offer you
if its not good enough send them home they will soon change there mind
they don't look like they are losing weight to me and considering they have come from Somali that bench must be heaven to sleep on if It was not you would take whatever house flat hotel that you was offered they are just trying to play the system and will get there own way in the end that is what makes me sick about this country why should they get there way when so many people born here are homeless you go sleep on the street in Somali and see what help they offer you if its not good enough send them home they will soon change there mind BRITJOBSFORBRITPEOP
  • Score: 30

7:22pm Thu 7 Aug 14

alroutemaster says...

Put them on the first flight back to Somalia, by force if necessary. We should be looking after our own first, not the flotsam and jetsom of the whole world.....
Put them on the first flight back to Somalia, by force if necessary. We should be looking after our own first, not the flotsam and jetsom of the whole world..... alroutemaster
  • Score: 36

7:48pm Thu 7 Aug 14

alan southfields says...

These people presumeably have some mental health issues as its mentioned that the female was hospitalised at some point in the past.I presume that was a psychiatric hospital.Yet another failure of the mental health services and the pathetic human rights legislation.I f these were a couple of white britons they would be arrested for vagrancy im sure.I see police moving on white street dwellers all the time.Why are these people being treated differently?
One law for us and another for the chosen ones.What a laughing stock this country has become!!
These people presumeably have some mental health issues as its mentioned that the female was hospitalised at some point in the past.I presume that was a psychiatric hospital.Yet another failure of the mental health services and the pathetic human rights legislation.I f these were a couple of white britons they would be arrested for vagrancy im sure.I see police moving on white street dwellers all the time.Why are these people being treated differently? One law for us and another for the chosen ones.What a laughing stock this country has become!! alan southfields
  • Score: 32

7:54pm Thu 7 Aug 14

Jimmyzola says...

I think your right there's help but choose not to? I think we are feel for them but it's a case of playing the system to get a council flat which I think is wrong but when your poor I suppose you have to do things like this.
I think your right there's help but choose not to? I think we are feel for them but it's a case of playing the system to get a council flat which I think is wrong but when your poor I suppose you have to do things like this. Jimmyzola
  • Score: -15

9:13am Fri 8 Aug 14

manic monday says...

alan southfields wrote:
These people presumeably have some mental health issues as its mentioned that the female was hospitalised at some point in the past.I presume that was a psychiatric hospital.Yet another failure of the mental health services and the pathetic human rights legislation.I f these were a couple of white britons they would be arrested for vagrancy im sure.I see police moving on white street dwellers all the time.Why are these people being treated differently?
One law for us and another for the chosen ones.What a laughing stock this country has become!!
Alan,
one of the most unreasonable Things To do is use the biased card Because The police Have not yet arrested This mother and son.
Fact is you Don't know at all why the police Have so far Allowed This couple to continue staying on that bench?
according to a web site
Homeless people are legally entitled to 24-hour advice within 28 days by
All local authorities in England.
[quote][p][bold]alan southfields[/bold] wrote: These people presumeably have some mental health issues as its mentioned that the female was hospitalised at some point in the past.I presume that was a psychiatric hospital.Yet another failure of the mental health services and the pathetic human rights legislation.I f these were a couple of white britons they would be arrested for vagrancy im sure.I see police moving on white street dwellers all the time.Why are these people being treated differently? One law for us and another for the chosen ones.What a laughing stock this country has become!![/p][/quote]Alan, one of the most unreasonable Things To do is use the biased card Because The police Have not yet arrested This mother and son. Fact is you Don't know at all why the police Have so far Allowed This couple to continue staying on that bench? according to a web site Homeless people are legally entitled to 24-hour advice within 28 days by All local authorities in England. manic monday
  • Score: -18

9:16am Fri 8 Aug 14

bellboy007 says...

As I said before, I very much doubt the homeless in general especially around Central London have had as much support from their local Councils in obtaining accommodation. A lot of these young, terrified kids would chew the arm off to be offered the help these 2 have had. If they won't accept the help already given, move them on, simple.
As I said before, I very much doubt the homeless in general especially around Central London have had as much support from their local Councils in obtaining accommodation. A lot of these young, terrified kids would chew the arm off to be offered the help these 2 have had. If they won't accept the help already given, move them on, simple. bellboy007
  • Score: 23

9:25am Fri 8 Aug 14

manic monday says...

alroutemaster wrote:
Put them on the first flight back to Somalia, by force if necessary. We should be looking after our own first, not the flotsam and jetsom of the whole world.....
OK al
but remember That Britain is part of the EU and therefore is legally obliged To permit foreigners in.
To send this Mother and Son back to their place of birth would go against EU Standards.
[quote][p][bold]alroutemaster[/bold] wrote: Put them on the first flight back to Somalia, by force if necessary. We should be looking after our own first, not the flotsam and jetsom of the whole world.....[/p][/quote]OK al but remember That Britain is part of the EU and therefore is legally obliged To permit foreigners in. To send this Mother and Son back to their place of birth would go against EU Standards. manic monday
  • Score: -17

10:28am Fri 8 Aug 14

fedup666 says...

Tooting is becoming a third-world dump. Note the number of professional
Romany Gypsy beggars near the Underground station.
They have benches in Somalia.
Tooting is becoming a third-world dump. Note the number of professional Romany Gypsy beggars near the Underground station. They have benches in Somalia. fedup666
  • Score: 23

10:54am Fri 8 Aug 14

alroutemaster says...

manic monday wrote:
alroutemaster wrote:
Put them on the first flight back to Somalia, by force if necessary. We should be looking after our own first, not the flotsam and jetsom of the whole world.....
OK al
but remember That Britain is part of the EU and therefore is legally obliged To permit foreigners in.
To send this Mother and Son back to their place of birth would go against EU Standards.
Not if we tell the EU to stuff their Human Rights and withdraw. And those rights only apply to human beings, not sure Somalians qualify.....
[quote][p][bold]manic monday[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]alroutemaster[/bold] wrote: Put them on the first flight back to Somalia, by force if necessary. We should be looking after our own first, not the flotsam and jetsom of the whole world.....[/p][/quote]OK al but remember That Britain is part of the EU and therefore is legally obliged To permit foreigners in. To send this Mother and Son back to their place of birth would go against EU Standards.[/p][/quote]Not if we tell the EU to stuff their Human Rights and withdraw. And those rights only apply to human beings, not sure Somalians qualify..... alroutemaster
  • Score: 13

11:51am Fri 8 Aug 14

manic monday says...

alroutemaster wrote:
manic monday wrote:
alroutemaster wrote:
Put them on the first flight back to Somalia, by force if necessary. We should be looking after our own first, not the flotsam and jetsom of the whole world.....
OK al
but remember That Britain is part of the EU and therefore is legally obliged To permit foreigners in.
To send this Mother and Son back to their place of birth would go against EU Standards.
Not if we tell the EU to stuff their Human Rights and withdraw. And those rights only apply to human beings, not sure Somalians qualify.....
al,
your not being serious mate...are you?
[quote][p][bold]alroutemaster[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]manic monday[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]alroutemaster[/bold] wrote: Put them on the first flight back to Somalia, by force if necessary. We should be looking after our own first, not the flotsam and jetsom of the whole world.....[/p][/quote]OK al but remember That Britain is part of the EU and therefore is legally obliged To permit foreigners in. To send this Mother and Son back to their place of birth would go against EU Standards.[/p][/quote]Not if we tell the EU to stuff their Human Rights and withdraw. And those rights only apply to human beings, not sure Somalians qualify.....[/p][/quote]al, your not being serious mate...are you? manic monday
  • Score: 2

11:59am Fri 8 Aug 14

manic monday says...

fedup666 wrote:
Tooting is becoming a third-world dump. Note the number of professional
Romany Gypsy beggars near the Underground station.
They have benches in Somalia.
fedup666,
remember we in Britain get what we vote for since this is a Democracy.
perhaps if the voting public Gave their votes To may 2010
The situation would be slightly...Just slightly Different?
PS I Don't Support UKIP but They appear to be the only Political party around That put the General interests of the British public First
including Issues such as The Immigration policy.
[quote][p][bold]fedup666[/bold] wrote: Tooting is becoming a third-world dump. Note the number of professional Romany Gypsy beggars near the Underground station. They have benches in Somalia.[/p][/quote]fedup666, remember we in Britain get what we vote for since this is a Democracy. perhaps if the voting public Gave their votes To may 2010 The situation would be slightly...Just slightly Different? PS I Don't Support UKIP but They appear to be the only Political party around That put the General interests of the British public First including Issues such as The Immigration policy. manic monday
  • Score: 6

5:48pm Fri 8 Aug 14

concernedofwandsworth says...

They need to be moved on as soon as possible. It makes the area look even worse; things have got bad enough without having immigrants laid out on benches surrounded by umbrellas and old suitcases. I'm sure they'll snap up a nice council flat once the weather turns. I wonder how long I'd have to wait to be offered some sort of accommodation as a young British-born guy, were I to become homeless?
They need to be moved on as soon as possible. It makes the area look even worse; things have got bad enough without having immigrants laid out on benches surrounded by umbrellas and old suitcases. I'm sure they'll snap up a nice council flat once the weather turns. I wonder how long I'd have to wait to be offered some sort of accommodation as a young British-born guy, were I to become homeless? concernedofwandsworth
  • Score: 20

6:06pm Fri 8 Aug 14

alroutemaster says...

manic monday wrote:
alroutemaster wrote:
manic monday wrote:
alroutemaster wrote:
Put them on the first flight back to Somalia, by force if necessary. We should be looking after our own first, not the flotsam and jetsom of the whole world.....
OK al
but remember That Britain is part of the EU and therefore is legally obliged To permit foreigners in.
To send this Mother and Son back to their place of birth would go against EU Standards.
Not if we tell the EU to stuff their Human Rights and withdraw. And those rights only apply to human beings, not sure Somalians qualify.....
al,
your not being serious mate...are you?
manicmonday: I'm deadly serious, I never joke about Somalians.
[quote][p][bold]manic monday[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]alroutemaster[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]manic monday[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]alroutemaster[/bold] wrote: Put them on the first flight back to Somalia, by force if necessary. We should be looking after our own first, not the flotsam and jetsom of the whole world.....[/p][/quote]OK al but remember That Britain is part of the EU and therefore is legally obliged To permit foreigners in. To send this Mother and Son back to their place of birth would go against EU Standards.[/p][/quote]Not if we tell the EU to stuff their Human Rights and withdraw. And those rights only apply to human beings, not sure Somalians qualify.....[/p][/quote]al, your not being serious mate...are you?[/p][/quote]manicmonday: I'm deadly serious, I never joke about Somalians. alroutemaster
  • Score: 6

6:50pm Fri 8 Aug 14

manic monday says...

concernedofwandswort
h
wrote:
They need to be moved on as soon as possible. It makes the area look even worse; things have got bad enough without having immigrants laid out on benches surrounded by umbrellas and old suitcases. I'm sure they'll snap up a nice council flat once the weather turns. I wonder how long I'd have to wait to be offered some sort of accommodation as a young British-born guy, were I to become homeless?
Concernedofwandswort
h,
I appreciate Your concern for the General reputation of Wandsworth and How This Issue with the Somalian mother and Son Affects It.
However I Don't Think you Should Allow That To make you Think that you Would Be Treated unfairly If you Were In a Similar Situation.
Try To Remember That " All local authorities in England have a legal duty to provide 24-hour advice to people, or those who are at risk of becoming homeless within 28 days."
so It is Therefore Very Unlikely That you would be Treated Unfairly.
[quote][p][bold]concernedofwandswort h[/bold] wrote: They need to be moved on as soon as possible. It makes the area look even worse; things have got bad enough without having immigrants laid out on benches surrounded by umbrellas and old suitcases. I'm sure they'll snap up a nice council flat once the weather turns. I wonder how long I'd have to wait to be offered some sort of accommodation as a young British-born guy, were I to become homeless?[/p][/quote]Concernedofwandswort h, I appreciate Your concern for the General reputation of Wandsworth and How This Issue with the Somalian mother and Son Affects It. However I Don't Think you Should Allow That To make you Think that you Would Be Treated unfairly If you Were In a Similar Situation. Try To Remember That " All local authorities in England have a legal duty to provide 24-hour advice to people, or those who are at risk of becoming homeless within 28 days." so It is Therefore Very Unlikely That you would be Treated Unfairly. manic monday
  • Score: -17

6:59pm Fri 8 Aug 14

manic monday says...

alroutemaster wrote:
manic monday wrote:
alroutemaster wrote:
manic monday wrote:
alroutemaster wrote:
Put them on the first flight back to Somalia, by force if necessary. We should be looking after our own first, not the flotsam and jetsom of the whole world.....
OK al
but remember That Britain is part of the EU and therefore is legally obliged To permit foreigners in.
To send this Mother and Son back to their place of birth would go against EU Standards.
Not if we tell the EU to stuff their Human Rights and withdraw. And those rights only apply to human beings, not sure Somalians qualify.....
al,
your not being serious mate...are you?
manicmonday: I'm deadly serious, I never joke about Somalians.
Well,
I Don't Think you are Doing Yourself any favors by Viewing Somalians in that way al?
I'll mention again the fact that Britain is a Democratic Country and Therefore Even You and Somalians are Allowed to have a Say in who governs us?
If you really are against Somalians Then perhaps Voting for UKIP next May Is the best Option?
[quote][p][bold]alroutemaster[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]manic monday[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]alroutemaster[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]manic monday[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]alroutemaster[/bold] wrote: Put them on the first flight back to Somalia, by force if necessary. We should be looking after our own first, not the flotsam and jetsom of the whole world.....[/p][/quote]OK al but remember That Britain is part of the EU and therefore is legally obliged To permit foreigners in. To send this Mother and Son back to their place of birth would go against EU Standards.[/p][/quote]Not if we tell the EU to stuff their Human Rights and withdraw. And those rights only apply to human beings, not sure Somalians qualify.....[/p][/quote]al, your not being serious mate...are you?[/p][/quote]manicmonday: I'm deadly serious, I never joke about Somalians.[/p][/quote]Well, I Don't Think you are Doing Yourself any favors by Viewing Somalians in that way al? I'll mention again the fact that Britain is a Democratic Country and Therefore Even You and Somalians are Allowed to have a Say in who governs us? If you really are against Somalians Then perhaps Voting for UKIP next May Is the best Option? manic monday
  • Score: 0

5:37pm Sat 9 Aug 14

alan southfields says...

Whats the betting that these 2 characters get that council HOUSE not flat in Battersea that they demand.It will be fast too,lets see if the guardian are so keen to report that too.Idoubt it somehow.
Whats the betting that these 2 characters get that council HOUSE not flat in Battersea that they demand.It will be fast too,lets see if the guardian are so keen to report that too.Idoubt it somehow. alan southfields
  • Score: 11

7:37pm Sat 9 Aug 14

VillageCranberry1 says...

This is what foreigners do, they want attention! Then they get social housing!
This is what foreigners do, they want attention! Then they get social housing! VillageCranberry1
  • Score: 12

8:16pm Sat 9 Aug 14

brixtonTears says...

I feel sorry for them both, time and time again people go into hospital for long periods and fall behind on their rent and often face eviction- I've seen it! The council have no remorse at times!
However, it also seems that she has some psychological issues which need to be dealt with and her son is probably sticking around because he doesn't want to leave her on her own... Imagine having to go to work everyday without a descent nights sleep, with no money to get there, no lunch, not being able to wash, not being able to change their clothes as well as the constant worry about whether your mum is ok ???
I feel sorry for them both, time and time again people go into hospital for long periods and fall behind on their rent and often face eviction- I've seen it! The council have no remorse at times! However, it also seems that she has some psychological issues which need to be dealt with and her son is probably sticking around because he doesn't want to leave her on her own... Imagine having to go to work everyday without a descent nights sleep, with no money to get there, no lunch, not being able to wash, not being able to change their clothes as well as the constant worry about whether your mum is ok ??? brixtonTears
  • Score: -3

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