THE goodwill around at this time of year is amazing – but why can’t we feel like this all year round?

It seems to take the first rush of Christmas music on the radio, the first sight of a choir singing carols, to soften us all and make us far more generous than the other 11 months of the year.

This is not a complaint — charities and voluntary groups need this festive help and may rely on it — but it’s just an observation of the human spirit.

While it really is lovely to see people generously giving cash and time to charities that, for example, help the homeless, there are people offering practical assistance to homeless people every day.

Just in Bolton, there is the Salvation Army, Bolton Young Persons Housing Scheme, Hope 4 Homeless, Urban Outreach and the lovely ladies who run the weekly Sunday Kitchen scheme to name but a few (and I’m bound to have missed out some groups for which I apologise). They are caring for homeless people in their quiet and persistent way very week. They raise money and beg goods where they can and are tirelessly helpful and supportive to those without the comfort of a home of their own.

At this time of year, people make conscious donations to charities, deliberately spreading the festive cheer. They buy extra gifts and donate them to shoe-box schemes or long-term schemes like The Bolton News’ and Bolton Lions’ Christmas appeal. There are people who have actively supported this latter scheme for years. This time of year really does showcase people’s generosity and the fact that most people really are basically decent. Yet, come January 1, for a significant number of those giving now, supporting charities will not necessarily be on their radar – until next Christmas time.

Yet, in Bolton, so much is underpinned by caring individuals and organisations.

The frail and vulnerable are visited, often taken out, entertained and offered the hand of friendship. Stressed parents are offered support to get through and those with mental health problems are helped and guided in voluntary groups that are a lifeline. Extending the warmth and camaraderie we feel for others that strikes us during December to other months of the year would make such a difference to life in our town. Perhaps that’s a New Year resolution in the making?