A Nigerian man has been granted a residence permit after spending 21 years sleeping on London buses during the night and volunteering at churches during the day in the United Kingdom.
Sunny (not real name) is said to have been denied asylum but he had remained in the country hoping for a miracle rather than come back to Nigeria and face his death sentence under the military government.
The BBC reports that he took a course in documentary-making, choosing to report on the lives of London’s homeless while he awaited the result of his asylum application.
Sunny’s favourite spot on the buses was said to be at the back of the lower deck He reportedly travelled light, carrying a small tote bag, to avoid the stigma of homelessness during the day. Describing the sitting arrangement on the buses, Sunny was quoted as saying the lower deck was the preserve of reasonable people, of families and of the elderly while the back seats were not just for the head rest but for peace of mind.
A church minister, a woman, was said to have bought him a monthly pass to save him multiple nightly fares. She continued to do so, month after month, and other friends would chip in if she wasn’t around. By day Sunny would volunteer at churches. When his work was done, he would often head to Westminster Reference Library where he could catch up on the day’s news or pick up where he’d left off in the book he’d been reading.
The report said he sometimes asked restaurant manager if they could spare some food. He would then begin his nightly trips around the city by 9pm. At dawn or when he got hungry, Sunny would head to a McDonald’s.
“He never begged but friendly staff at the Leicester Square branch would give him food and let him shave in the bathrooms. Fellow customers could be kind, too,” the report said.
Fortune smiled on Sunny when the legal team at Notre Dame de France church made an application for ”leave to remain” on his behalf provided he could prove that he had continuously lived in the UK for 20 years. It would have been difficult to be able to prove this since he had lived illegally in the country for the said period.
However, the churches he had volunteered over the years, as well a bus driver, wrote him letters of support. The churches also dug out old photographs of him at charity events as proof.
He was granted leave to remain in the country in 2017 at the age of 55.