"IT'S A hard life".

That's how the homeless people in Southampton understandably described living rough on the city's streets.

• Conmen make £200 a day begging in Southampton & Winchester >>

Daily Echo reporter James Franklin spoke to some of the city's homeless about their experiences - and what they think of claims that "bogus beggars" are coming into the city to make hundreds of pounds a week..

All of the seven homeless people the Daily Echo spoke to along Above Bar said they had only been on the streets over the past year.

All of them said they were angry about the beggars who were exploiting the generosity of Southampton's residents - but still going home to a bed and a roof over the head at the end of the day.

Melissa Scott currently lives in a tent near the Polygon, having moved to the city after being evicted from a council property in Portsmouth four months ago and saying she cannot return because of personal issues.

The 48-year-old mum of two told the Daily Echo: "I never thought I would be homeless.

"I don't know about the future. I have talked to the council but I can't go back to Portsmouth.

"It annoys me when I see people who aren't homeless begging - they've got places to live, we haven't.

"Some of us have got genuine problems."

One 58-year-old man, who gave his name as "Rollz" or "Pops", has been on the streets for five months, saying he was made homeless after being evicted from a housing association property in Portswood.

He told us: "There's a lot of newcomers - but a lot of them aren't even homeless.

"I think about ten per cent are actually homeless."

Despite that, he says he has already taken part in the council's consultation about the Public Space Protection Orders, saying: "I have petitioned against the extra powers.

"I don't think it will sort out the homeless problem.

"But if they do find people begging who aren't really homeless, they should arrest them.

"I know people who come in from Salisbury and Winchester."

While he was talking to the Daily Echo a man in his fifties, who could speak only a few words of English, started talking to him.

Despite the language barrier that hampered conversation he realised the man, who had a sling from a shoulder injury that he recently had hospital treatment on, was asking him if he could rest on some of the blankets "Pops" had collected at his spot at the junction of Above Bar and Civic Centre Road.

He was one of a number of homeless people who came and went from the spot during the course of the day, with "Pops" saying he offers what he describes as "counselling" to others suffering from drug or drink addictions.

Daily Echo: Mark Foster

Further down Above Bar, wrapped in a blanket and sheltering in a doorway, was Mark Foster, a former roofer and labourer.

He says he used to live in Hayling Island and has been on the streets for the past seven months after being moved out of a homeless hostel.

He came to Southampton as his cousin is in the city and the pair currently sleep in a city centre car park.

The 35-year-old, a keen musician, said: "It's pretty hard.

• Conmen make £200 a day begging in Southampton & Winchester >>

"I've met a few people who are in the same situation, but I also see a lot of people who aren't homeless, especially on weekends.

"I feel annoyed because they have places to live and they are only doing it for their drug habits."

Metres away, near to the WestQuay Shopping Centre, a 25-year-old man from Southampton who only gives me his first name, as Jonathan, says he has been living rough in the city for a year after his mother passed away.

Daily Echo: Dan Thompson

He said that while he wants people to give him change so he can afford an "extra £5" for accommodation, he never asks people directly for money, saying it's "their choice".

He added: "I want to work, I want somewhere to live but it's really hard.

"That's what winds me up - people come out and fake it but I'm genuinely homeless.

"You can always tell the fake ones, you just know. Some people come out and are really clean and tidy and have the latest clothes and shoes.

"How could a genuinely homeless person afford that? It makes me angry."