The bench a homeless Somali family have spent the past nine months living on has been ripped up after the mother was taken to hospital suffering from cold.

Wandsworth Times:

The family pictured earlier this year 

The mother and son had centred their lives around the bench outside TK Maxx, in Tooting High Street, since April this year.

The family were still on the bench yesterday morning but had disappeared by the evening.

Witnesses reported seeing two police cars, an ambulance and a large crowd gathered around the bench at about 5pm.

A spokeswoman for the London Ambulance Service said they were called just before 5pm to reports of a person taken unwell.

They took a woman to nearby St George’s Hospital, in Tooting.

A police spokesman said they were called to reports of a woman suffering from cold.

It is understood the emergency services spent some time trying to persuade her to accept healthcare.

When she finally agreed to go the crowd that had gathered around her gave a big cheer.

Images taken today reveal the bench has now been pulled up and the holes have been filled.

Hours after the story broke today Transport for London told us the bench was removed at the request of the council. 

We have asked Wandsworth Council why they requested the removal.

A spokesman from Wandsworth Council said earlier today: "Both mother and son are safe and well and being cared for at the moment.

"We will continue to offer them our full support and continue trying to persuade them to accept our offer of a proper roof over their heads." 

Serious concerns were raised about the pair, who huddled under sleeping bags every night on the busy high street.

They had multiple suitcases around them and a deck chair. They used plastic sheeting to keep them dry and umbrellas to protect them from both the sun and rain.

Wandsworth Times:

An empty space where the bench once was 

Tens of thousands of cars drove past them each day, as well as shoppers.

Locals from both the Somali community and others stopped to offer them help, food and accommodation.

However, they refused help and offers of accommodation from the council.

In the summer 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.

Wandsworth Council repeatedly tried to engage with the family and said it was concerned for their welfare.

Wandsworth Times:

The family used plastic sheeting to protect themselves in the winter

Wandsworth Times:

The lady was seen protecting herself from the sun during the summer 

Wandsworth Times:

The pair huddled up on the bench at night

Wandsworth Times:

Their story was front page of the Wandsworth Guardian earlier this year 

Did you see the family leave or do you know more? Call the newsdesk on 0208 722 6344 or email 

More to follow.