TWO New Forest councillors are doing some Christmas shopping with a difference.

Ringwood members Michael Thierry and Danny Cracknell are collecting bags of food, clothes and toiletries for homeless people in Southampton and three other cities.

New Forest District Council employees based at Lyndhurst and Lymington are among scores of people who have already donated items.

Councillor Cracknell said: "We have been doing this every Christmas for the past 11 years. I keep threatening to stop, but I can't. When you go out on to the streets and see how grateful people are it inspires you to carry on."

Councillor Thierry said: "Some people have no sympathy for the homeless because they feel it's their choice, but that isn't always the case. Many of the people we meet have alcohol and drugs problems and we hear some tragic stories."

The councillors will distribute the goods in the seven days before Christmas with the help of the Salvation Army.

Cllr Cracknell added: "Many people think that the problem of homelessness and people living on the streets is getting better, but that just isn't the case.

"Although Cardboard City is no longer near Waterloo Station in London, homeless people don't have accommodation, they have simply been moved on."