A lonely homeless man who 'just wanted a hug' had his sleeping bag set on fire, according to outreach workers.

The man was discovered 'cowering in a shop front' by volunteers in the city centre last night and showed them the damage done to his sleeping bag.

Becky Houghton is a volunteer with the Papercup Project, a team of people who head around the city centre every week to help those sleeping rough.

She said she and others had first met the man last month when he had told her and Papercup founder Michelle Langan how lonely he was.

She said: "I came over and saw he was hugging Michelle really tight, he didn't want to let go.

"When we spoke to him he told us that he was really lonely and just wanted a hug."

Becky said that they didn't see the man again until last night.

She said: "I saw a man slumped in one of the shop fronts near Primark and I approached him, I thought he was asleep.

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"As I got closer I could see lots of items scattered all around where he was lying and I started speaking to him.

"He told me that recently someone had come up to him and chucked around all his property, the things he carried around with him while he's on the streets.

The man was found in a doorway near to Primark

"For some reason they had emptied his things all around him."

She added: "Then he told me that they had set his sleeping bag on fire - he lifted up his legs to show me the sleeping bag all burnt and in tatters - he said it had burnt some of his legs as well."

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Becky said the man, who is dependent on alcohol, could not be clear about exactly when the attack had happened - and said he had not informed police or been to hospital.

She said: "He seemed to just be trying to deal with it on his own, it was so heartbreaking to see.

"I just don't understand how anyone could do something like this to another human being, why would anyone want to hurt someone who is clearly so vulnerable already?"

She said the team offered the man advice and urged him to seek shelter in the city council's Labre House night shelter.

Becky added: "We will be keeping a special eye out for him now."