IT IS always heartening when people rally around in support of an underdog. Lara Seamer was so outraged when chains were put up to stop a homeless man sleeping in an alcove in Fetter Lane that she set up an online appeal to help him. The response was overwhelming. Within 48 hours, more than 200 people had donated £2,500 between them. There was outrage on social media. Stapleton Waterhouse, which manages Queens House on Micklegate and which put the chains up, has now taken them down again.

There are shades here of the anger felt when, in 2015, the city council fitted bars to public benches in York to stop homeless people sleeping on them.

Not everyone welcomes the sight of homeless people on the streets. In this case, following complaints from nearby residents and from staff using Queens House, the council had served an antisocial behaviour notice on the man.

But Lara, 20, says to her knowledge he has always been a ‘lovely, kind, polite, clean and respectful’ young man. “He simply shelters for the night in a quiet area so he can read empty rubbish packets and keep himself to himself,” she told The Press.

Stapleton Waterhouse says it sought advice from York homeless charities, the Salvation Army and the Samaritans before putting up the chains. The man refused help from all of them. But the company confirmed the chains had now been removed. “We continue to work with the local authority to support this individual,” Stapleton Waterhouse said.

Homelessness is the very visible sign of the inequalities in modern society. Whatever the ins and outs of this case, it is good to see that people can still find it in themselves to care.