Last December I wrote a column entitled ‘Freezing to death on the streets of our cities’, in which I highlighted the plight of rough sleepers in winter.
I had cause to reflect on this matter when I happened upon the aftermath of the tragic death of a man who spent the night on East London Street last week. Despite the best efforts of his friends and local residents, he could not be saved and it would appear that he succumbed to the plummeting temperatures overnight.
While this man wasn’t actually homeless, he experienced the same conditions faced by rough sleepers on a nightly basis.
Such a tragedy serves to remind us that our help and support is needed and it was encouraging to hear that Councillor Gavin Barrie, the housing and economy convener, had managed to secure £2 million of funding for the council’s Homelessness Task Force, which will look at alternatives to placing people in B&Bs.
Gavin knows that sleeping rough presents a whole raft of issues that need to be addressed and that is also bound to command his attention.