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Is this the most touching Northern Ireland Christmas video yet? Homeless Aware campaign aims to offer warmth to those on the streets

Published 30/11/2015

A touching new video has been released to help bring a little warmth to those unfortunate to be left homeless in Northern Ireland this Christmas.

Homeless Aware has produced the video to encourage people to give up some of their time over the coming festive period to help those sleeping rough.

The three minute piece has been produced in conjunction with youth training organisation Springboard, its volunteers and Belfast-based video production outfit Ignition Belfast CIC.

It shows what a difference a hot cup of tea and a chat can make to someone living on the streets.

Homeless Aware founder Paul McCusker said: "It's a growing problem.

"On an average night in Belfast there could be 15 people sleeping rough.

"We have also seen an increase in the number of young people 'sofa surfing' - when they have no home to go to and instead sleep on friends' furniture - and in 2014 some 19,000 presented themselves as homeless to the Housing Executive."

Paul, a 29-year-old nurse at the Mater and from Ardoyne, founded Homeless Aware after spending two nights on the streets of Belfast last year to highlight the issue.

He is working toward gaining charity status for the organisation which has partnered with the Welcome Organisation and the Simon Community.

The video to highlight the campaign features many of the well-known sites around Belfast put to the music of the band Sleeping at Last and their track 'Snow'.

Paul McCusker founded the organisation Homeless Aware.
Paul McCusker founded the organisation Homeless Aware.
Volunteers from Springboard took part in the video.

Paul continued: "I spent two nights on the streets and it was physically draining after the one and very isolating, I was verbally abused on the first night and it was frightening.

"It is something that can and does happen to professionals and people with backgrounds in business.

"There are no boundaries."

He added: "We have been working for the past year talking with many of those affected.

"They tell us that people ignore them and they don't feel part of society.

"In our video, we say 'giving time costs nothing' and that is the hope.

"Stop, have a chat and offer a cup of tea, it costs you nothing but could make all the difference."

If you would like to volunteer your time, contact Homeless Aware through Facebook.

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