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More of a WWYD...homeless man living in mums shed

(120 Posts)
ClashCityRocker Wed 03-Dec-14 22:30:30

First time I've posted in AIBU.

My mum lives in a block of flats.

She rang me earlier this evening in a bit of a state. She does have anxiety issues and tends to panic about things.

She lives in a block of flats. Each flat has an 'indoor' shed, like a coal shed, by the front door, and also an outside shed that funds adjacent to the block of flats.

She doesn't really use the outside shed, mainly because there has been a lot of break-ins in the area, and in particular around where she lives.

This morning, she was looking out the windows and saw a man come out of the shed. She went down to investigate and the lock had been broken (it's a latch with a padlock on it) and there was a load of cardboard, a sleeping bag and a couple of blankets in it, plus a bit of rubbish (empty food packages etc) that hadn't been there before. She hasn't seen him come back yet but has been keeping an eye out.

She's fuming. I can't really see the harm, other than the broken lock, and to be honest, if all he's got to keep him warm on a cold winters night is an empty shed, he's welcome to it...but it's not my shed and I don't know if I'd feel different if it was. She won't confront him...she does have anxiety and other mental health issues and is really not good at dealing with things and is tying herself in knots about it. She wants me to do something about it, but what?

I think she'd like me to 'just get rid of him', but I really do think it's too harsh and she shouldn't begrudge someone a bit of shelter...

So as not to drip feed, she does require a lot of day to day support doing things - for example, I have to make sure her bills are paid (with her money) and that foods in and deal with things that come up in general...she struggles a bit but I love her dearly,

Just not sure how to handle this in the best way...

carlywurly Wed 03-Dec-14 22:37:05

I would feel the same as you. I think you need to reassure her that he's doing no harm and is unlikely to try and settle there permanently.

I can't see that she's in any personal danger but does it need to be reported to the council/ building owner maybe? Also if it's her property and there's any risk of him being harmed while in there, she may have a public liability responsibility towards him, even if he's trespassing.

I think I'd leave it a couple of days and call a community police number for some advice.

KnackeredMuchly Wed 03-Dec-14 22:37:21

If it was my shed, I'd probably take down some warmer gear and leave it for him with a fladk of soup.

But it's not. Your Mum is distressed so, when I knew it wasn't a night due to rain, I'd drag his stuff out, put a new lock on and leave something for him - food, money, thick socks or whatever kindness you can stretch to - plus contact details for local homeless charities.

SpringBreaker Wed 03-Dec-14 22:41:52

If that was my shed, and I didnt use it, I would put blankets in there and leave some food. A bit of compassion goes a long way. Poor man. sad

SoonToBeSix Wed 03-Dec-14 22:43:35

Why is she fuming? Sorry but your mum sounds very uncaring.

BrereRabbit Wed 03-Dec-14 22:44:17

Where abouts is she? I want to take him a duvet and a cuppa!

CheeseDreams Wed 03-Dec-14 22:46:08

What area does your mum live in? In London there is a service called No Second Night Out. You contact them if you see a rough sleeper and they will send people out to then at night to talk to them and help them get a hostel place or connect them to suitable services. I know that other large cities also operate this scheme or similar.

If you are unsure and not in London contact London's No Second Night Out (just google it and it comes up) and they will advise you on what service are in your area.

notagainffffffffs Wed 03-Dec-14 22:47:36

Do you think you might be able to pop over and approach him? I can understand her being frightened.
If yoy could get an idea of what hes about then maybe you can put her mind to rest?
What a terrible situation for the man sad

Comito Wed 03-Dec-14 22:50:15

Do you think you can reassure her at all that he's doing no harm? If not, then as other posters have said, remove his stuff to a safe place, new lock etc. But don't be surprised if he breaks in again.

I'd also suggest talking to him, giving details of hostels and explaining it's making her anxious. It's difficult - where I used to live we had a homeless guy camping in a corner of the development near bike stores. A few of us gave him food, soup, blankets etc and details for homeless shelters. He suddenly disappeared but his stuff was still there and it turned out he'd been taken to hospital. One of the residents took his belongings in for him till he came out and could collect them. He moved on after that.

He was perfectly harmless but I accept that's not always the case and some people might not be comfortable with it.

WorraLiberty Wed 03-Dec-14 22:52:13

My MIL lives in a flat with a similar shed set up

She's had the same homeless man in there for around 11yrs on and off. He's like your 'stereotypical hobo' to look at and doesn't appear to want help (or at least he hasn't taken it) to live in proper accommodation.

As far as we know, he doesn't have any drug or alcohol problems (we've never seen him drinking beer even) but he does have some mental health issues.

But it's somewhere dry to bed down for the night and keep his little trolley of possessions.

He's well fed when he's around as most people just accept he's there, and bring him sandwiches/dinner leftovers.

But in your Mum's case if he's causing her problems, perhaps a word with the council might find him some help, if he wants it?

NewNamePlease Wed 03-Dec-14 22:54:29

Erm... My shed and I would call the police. He broke the lock, you have no idea if he is not a burglar/rapist/murderer in hiding. If I was homeless I would still not break into places. She is lucky not to have had stuff in there, I bet he'd have flogged it.

Bulbasaur Wed 03-Dec-14 22:58:11

Report it to the property manager.

For starters, he's breaking the law. He's squatting, and he's destroyed property by breaking the lock.

That said, the property managers can call the proper channels and help him get the help he needs. They might be able to get him in touch with a shelter.

But don't ignore it either. You don't know if he's dangerous or not. He might seem harmless now, but he's already breaking the law, what's to stop him from scoping the apartments and breaking in when someone is away?

You can't have strange people living on your property that aren't suppose to be there. There are programs that can help him, you will be helping him most by getting him in touch with programs he needs, not leave him sleeping in a shed, which is a band aid solution to a bigger problem.

Redglitter Wed 03-Dec-14 22:59:59

If you were homeless in the middle of winter you don't know what you'd do. He'd probably have sold the stuff? wow sweeping stereotyping generalisation there.

My heart goes out to anyone who has to resort to sleeping in a strangers garden shed to get in out the cold

ilovesooty Wed 03-Dec-14 23:04:28

If you were homeless in the middle of winter you don't know what you'd do. He'd probably have sold the stuff? wow sweeping stereotyping generalisation there

You beat me to it Redglitter

TimelyNameChangey Wed 03-Dec-14 23:05:57

Like you, I would help him with more blankets etc but I think that your Mum must come first for you here.

You could call the local homeless advice line...there will be one in your town...and ask them what to do.

Bulbasaur Wed 03-Dec-14 23:06:12

My heart goes out to anyone who has to resort to sleeping in a strangers garden shed to get in out the cold

As does mine. You'll be helping him out more by turning him into the authorities. The police do not jail homeless people, they get them in touch with shelters and programs. Even here in the US with the highest prison rate, we do not jail people for being homeless. They may sleep in a holding cell as a temporary measure one night sure. But they also get them in touch with halfway houses and ways to get back on their feet.

There are just so many programs out there that he is either unable or unaware of how to access them and police will help with this. Or he is choosing not to access them, in which case he can't be living in the shed either, he needs to get himself back on his feet.

Allowing him to stay there is doing him more harm than good. All giving him an extra blanket or keeping quiet would do is make you feel good.

AnyFucker Wed 03-Dec-14 23:06:30

Full of festive cheer and good will to all men, aintcha NewName ?

elephantspoo Wed 03-Dec-14 23:14:52

NewNamePlease - A bit paranoid mayhaps? Let's face it, if he were a criminal 'in hiding' it'd be on the news. If it weren't, then he'd either be a criminal secretly in hiding from a secret police investigation, and presumably either so dangerous the public couldn't be warned for fear of mass hysteria, or of no appreciable risk whatsoever. And presumably also being such an incompetent burglar that he was seen exiting the shed and left incriminating evidence behind indicating just where the police could find him in the future. I'd suggest these types of criminals are more often than not caught before the go into hiding in random sheds.

This reminds me of a story from an OAPs home in a small village in the Home Counties (UK), where, unknown to the staff, the OAPs had adopted a family of immigrants who were living in the bushes at the back of their home. It turns out they'd been their for some six weeks when some staff got wind of it, and the OAPs had been sneaking food and biscuits and things out to them as they dodder end around the grounds in their bathrobes of an evening. Kinda like the story of the mothers feeding their kids through the bars at school.

justmuddlingalong Wed 03-Dec-14 23:14:56

It's freezing outside. I have a warm house, central heating, hot water and food. There but for the grace of God. He's sheltering in a shed your Dm doesn't use. It's hardly the crime of the century.

elephantspoo Wed 03-Dec-14 23:16:40

The autocorrect on the forum is carp, btw.

Lucyandpoppy Wed 03-Dec-14 23:26:26

I have used this website a few times - you input info about where you have seen someone rough sleeping and they will send people there to try and put them in touch with any schemes/help in the area I think.

So I would report it, and maybe bring down a blanket and some non perishable food and bottles of water. He is a person not an animal.

DixieNormas Wed 03-Dec-14 23:33:05

He could have mh issues, many homeless people do and turning them into the authorities does nothing other than mean they have to move on and find somewhere else warm to sleep. Many of them don't want to take meds and don't want the accommodation offered, for whatever reason. Id leave him and take him some stuff down if it was my shed

mindthegap79 Wed 03-Dec-14 23:41:24

Whereabouts are you? If you're in the south west I can put you in touch with homelessness support charities who can offer support to the poor bloke.

mindthegap79 Wed 03-Dec-14 23:42:04

Or the Leeds area, got contacts there too. Feel free to pm me.

sunflower49 Wed 03-Dec-14 23:48:00

If I was you I'd probably have some sort of conversation with him (or get DP to do it if I was nervous) and find out what he's about, if he seems to be of decent character, if he's substance abusing or not etc etc. If he seems a decent person then at least you can assure your Mum somewhat.

And yes, I'd probably take him food and blankets,too.

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