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Ardoyne man sleeps rough for two nights

By David Whelan

An Ardoyne community worker has braved the streets of Belfast for 48 hours armed with just a sleeping bag in an effort to raise awareness of growing homelessness across the city.

Paul McCusker, a healthcare support worker and volunteer at the Welcome Organisation, slept rough from 3pm on Monday to 3pm on Wednesday to highlight the reality of the struggle of at least 11 people sleeping rough in Belfast every night.

“Spending the night alone on the street can be scary, lonely, isolating,” said Paul

“This was the first time that I had taken it on without group support and you get to appreciate some of the hardships facing these people on a daily basis.

“We are in the run up to the worst time of year for someone forced to fend for themselves on the streets, in horrible weather conditions and away from family at Christmas.”

Since 2000 the number of homeless people in the north has doubled, something Paul said could only be changed with a change in public attitude.

As part of the project Paul also created a video that focuses on some of the experiences homeless people have with the public.

“As a volunteer we regularly hear of a range of experiences homeless people have, ranging right up to aggressive and violent.

“If anything we want to raise awareness of those in need and say please spare a thought about those people who will have to spend Christmas on the streets.”


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