IF there is one thing the latest wintry spell of weather underlines it is the value of having a home to go to.

I just cannot imagine spending recent nights outside with temperatures plummeting and the cold seeping into your bones. I suspect that people just never get warm so how they sleep is a mystery.

Thank God for Bolton’s hard-working charities like Urban Outreach and Bolton Young Persons Housing Scheme, plus organisations like the amazing Sunday Street Kitchen which gives out food and warm clothing to the homeless.

If it were not for individuals like Dave Bagley and Maura Jackson who drive forward their practical and caring organisations, life would be even harder for many people of all ages.

It’s very easy to forget the plight of the homeless when we are sitting in our own cosy homes, enjoying a meal and watching TV. We might worry about our bills and what the future might bring but for those sleeping rough on our streets and anywhere offering shelter, the big concern is how to afford the next meal.

Becoming homeless may seem like something that is far away from our own existences but, for a frighteningly large number of people, it’s only a couple of pay-checks away.

And it affects whole families, not just unfortunate individuals. The latest figures from housing charity Shelter show that Bolton has the fifth highest number of homeless children in the North-west with 82 children living in temporary accommodation this Christmas. Every day, several families become homeless across the region.

The figures include children living in refuge accommodation like Fortalice. They also show that one in every 111 children in Britain is currently homeless.

John Ryan, Shelter Manchester hub manager, said it was “a national scandal that the number of homeless children in Britain has risen every year since 2011. No child should have to spend Christmas without a home – let alone more than 2,600 children in the North-west.” And he’s absolutely right.

Certainly, as we enjoy our pleasant festive meal in our own homes, probably with loved ones, it’s important to acknowledge that for far too many people life is either a cramped B & B or hotel room or on the streets.

This is not an acceptable situation going into a New Year. What a step forward it would be if 2018 marked a genuine move to getting homes for the homeless.