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Poignant image of Belfast homelessness

The photograph on the front page of our paper yesterday, showing how a homeless man uses a public telephone box on Belfast's bustling Ormeau Road to store his bedding material, was a particularly stark image.

It is clear that considerable efforts are being made to help those sleeping rough, with churches and community groups stepping up their commendable role as the problem spreads from the city centre to the main arterial routes.

However, complex issues are involved and some of the individuals concerned have let it be known that, for their own reasons, they do not wish to use the hostels which are available and prefer to spend their nights in doorways and under trees.

Campaigners have stressed that simply giving money to vulnerable people, who may also have an addiction to drugs or alcohol, can be counterproductive, but there can be no doubt that, as the winter approaches, the plight of the homeless needs to be given careful and close attention.

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