AS THE council in West Oxfordshire begins work on its new plans to tackle homelessness, the question is: are we doing enough for the most vulnerable in our society?

At the core of the problem is the complexity of what may seem, at a glance, like a straightforward issue.

We all have ingrained in us an idea of what homelessness looks like: a bearded man, often addicted to drugs or alcohol, sleeping in doorways in city centres.

But one finds, when exploring the issue further, that this is only one of the faces of homelessness.

What about the young people who end up forced out of their homes following a fall-out with their parents?

What about the people living with serious disabilities moved from place to place because nothing suitable to their needs is available?

With its Families First project, the council seems to be responding to some of these more complicated issues, picking up on recent statistics and looking to solve the problem at its cause.

There are fears, however, that not all of the faces of homelessness will find support through the new scheme.

Councillor Andy Graham raised the issue to fellow West Oxfordshire councillors in cabinet last month.

He suggested that a piecemeal approach to the problem was not good enough, that bit-by-bit solutions, however positive, could not sit in exchange of a broad and comprehensive plan to deal with homelessness.

What this takes, Mr Graham no doubt knows, is something decidedly ambitious – but, more importantly, decidedly valuable.

We need to address how we deal with homelessness but before that we need to deal with how we think about it.

The sensible starting point to a plan is defining – or even re-defining – what homelessness is.

Only then can we start on the road to a proper solution to this crisis.