THE cost of living crisis is affecting all of us in one way or another, even if we are just keeping the heating down a degree or two, or not buying an extra chocolate orange at Christmas.

For some people, though, the pressures all become too much. Everything is rising and nothing is under their control – rents, food, energy – until something just goes ping. It all becomes too much, and then they find the door to what had been their home is locked against them.

It is a tragedy and the numbers seem to be increasing. We don’t need the homeless charity Shelter’s figures to tell us that, we just need to look at our high streets. In places like Darlington, Northallerton and Yarm, there does seem to have been a rise in the number of people with cups just begging to get by.

Covid cleared the streets of them, as the Government rightly tried to take people in, but the problem hasn’t gone away.

Each case has its own cause: mental problems and addictions are often involved, but it is also, like Stephen whose story is told on Page 29, just modern life and family breakdown becoming too overwhelming for some.

At the root of the problems are many issues. Our mental health system doesn’t help everyone; our chaotic housing market seems to be working against many people, causing high prices and soaring rents.

And so many of our councils are so cash-strapped that they can offer little more than shoddy temporary accommodation.

We must, therefore, be extremely grateful for those who do unglamorous work either through housing associations or for charities in helping the homeless, picking them up, putting a roof over their heads and helping them back onto their feet.