COMMENT: We have to confront the issue to bring about change

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We all know homelessness exists. But as we relax on our comfortable sofas in our warm homes and watch TV with a glass of wine or beer, perhaps it’s a case of out of sight, out of mind.

But the shocking pictures on page one and page seven today surely show that the issue cannot be avoided. Because right in the centre of our city there are people living in tents – and that should make us all uncomfortable.

They are not like those who pitch a tent at festivals, or sleep in one when queuing up all night outside shops for bargains.

These are people who seek shelter each night under canvas because it is all they have got.

The group of tent-dwellers were camped in Commercial Road until the council forced them to move on. But all that happened was that they moved to Lake Road.

It’s true to say that some may be there out of choice. Our reporter spoke to one, called Johnny, who became homeless after splitting up with his wife and says he feels ‘free as a bird’.

Yet we suspect the majority have not ended up on the streets out of choice.

Last year, The News supported the city’s rough sleepers with our Show Them You Care This Christmas campaign, helping to provide meals and gifts.

But we know that much more needs to be done all year round to tackle the problem of homelessness in our society.

So it is encouraging that the city council and homeless charity The Society of St James are doing all they can to provide rough sleepers with accommodation.

We also commend Churches Homeless Action for staging an open awareness event where agencies, charities and MPs will come together to discuss the way forward.

Because it is only by confronting the issue that we will bring about change.