WE’VE started the New Year at a disadvantage with major worries about everything from NHS services to social care and homelessness to law and order.

No-one with their eyes open could ever dispute the problems around us caused by, among other things, massive cuts in Government spending on services on the ground.

This has led to demonstrations, huge lobbying, and, in the case of crime, threats to form vigilante groups in communities. It’s understandable why people feel they have had enough – yet, amazingly, they still soldier on.

I’m not bright enough to offer solutions to major social problems, apart from the obvious ones, but I am in awe on a regular basis of the way that some people step up to the plate when it really matters.

For there is one indisputable trait about individuals around the country and, in particular, in Bolton: when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Just take a look around and you’ll see it. Individuals and groups of remarkable people trying to make a difference, redress the balance, change things.

They’re in the town’s organisations like Urban Outreach, Bolton Young Persons Housing Scheme, the Salvation Army and the Sunday Street Kitchen to name just a few. They’re going into places and doing things that are well out of their comfort zone and they are making a difference.

Now, doctors in Bolton are among the first in the country to try to help homeless people. GPs in Crompton, Horwich, Ladybridge and Little Lever are ensuring they can reach “sofa surfers” – people with no settled home who rely on friends to provide accommodation – and those in temporary accommodation like b & b’s and hostels.

Bolton Community Practice is one of the first nationally to publicly pledge to be Homeless-Friendly and ensure that homeless people can access their services. At a time when their services are already stretched, this is a remarkable move.

At the same time, Royal Voluntary Service volunteers are offering to work extra hours at the Royal Bolton Hospital to help deal with the additional cases caused by Winter problems like flu. They already provide comfort and compassion to staff and patients in cafes, shops and ward trolley rounds but they are happy to do more.

We’ve not got a lot of much apart from problems currently but, plainly, we have an amazing collection of people who genuinely care – which is wealth indeed.