It’s times like this, when the temperatures are in the minus range and an arctic wind sweeps down from the polar region that those of us who have a roof over our heads, enough food in the cupboard and, for the very fortunate, central heating or at least an open fire, appreciate our good fortune. But – and it’s a big but – it’s also at times like this that we become guiltily aware that not everyone is as fortunate as we are. That’s when my thoughts turn to the Salvation Army.

When the temperatures tumble and most of us huddle indoors or, if we must venture outside, wrap up in warm winter boots and jackets, the Salvation Army seeks out those without such luxuries. They venture into out-of-the-way places like woods and rough ground, abandoned buildings and empty sewer pipes, bringing food, a warm drink, an extra blanket to those sleeping rough. The Salvation Army is, I like to think, operating at the sharp end of our society, where the rest of us fail, however good our intentions. It is self-satisfying when we put a few coins or notes into the red kettles but how many of us would go out in these sub-zero temperatures and actively seek out someone to help?

I have very little spare money and limit my charitable donations to just two organisations: one is for research into cancer diagnoses, (a choice resulting from close family acquaintance with that elusive disease). The other is the Salvation Army who do not siphon off donations to obscene salaries for top managers but put boots on the ground with alacrity. Without them many of the people living rough would probably die during extreme weather.

The website of Quora ( suggests the US has roughly 192 per hundred-thousand homeless people (0.1927% ) and the UK roughly 55 per hundred-thousand (0.0553%). Of course, the US is far bigger in both landmass and population and. these figures were offered in May 2015 so are almost two years out-of-date and other websites proffer differing numbers.  I am not an expert in the causes of homelessness and I have read that some people choose to live that way but a great many do not.

So it is that I applaud the Salvation Army  and wish all their soldiers a blessed Christmas and my grateful thanks for all they do throughout the year, not only in the USA or the UK but everywhere around the world where they step in to help those less fortunate than most of us.

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