There's something about the cold that I just love. Going outside in the frozen air, wrapped up in a thick coat and scarf and gloves; it's bracing yet refreshing. And then, of course, you get to go back inside where it is warm and cosy. Crank up the heating and cocoon within a solid building.
At this time, though, I always think of those who aren't inside, or cannot turn up the temperature.
Many years ago, in my foolish youth, I got into a situation where I had to make it outside overnight. It was this exact time of year; there was frost and ice and snow, and I had no chance of gaining proper shelter. It was very late on a Sunday night when everything for miles was closed. This was a town far away from Thanet, that I didn't know, back when you needed a computer and a cable to connect to the internet. Plus I was out of battery on my brick-of-a-mobile phone, had no access to money, and there were many other extenuating circumstances.
I walked as far as I could, for hours into the darkness, but was surrounded by a bitter cold that sunk into the bones and drained the muscles of energy, sapping the life out of the body.
Fortunately, when I had reached the point of exhaustion, I found a car that had been involved in a crash. It was all dented and one of the windows was smashed, and it looked like it had rolled over a few times. It clearly wasn't going anywhere. I opened the door, climbed into the back and out of the weather, and tried to sleep for a few hours. In the early hours of the morning I left and never looked back.
I do not claim to have a detailed knowledge of sleeping rough, nor do I expect sympathy or anything like that. I am simply sharing my meagre experience as a way of identifying with those who are in the same situation, or worse.
Around here there is plenty of support for people trapped outdoors, with the first port of call being Thanet District Council. There are also many charitable organisations, including Thanet Families in Need, Porchlight, and Shelter, amongst others, all of whom do good work and put the people they are helping before anything else. If ever there was a need for these types of charities, it is during this time of year.
Perhaps that's why I like the cold. It reminds me of when I had nothing, when I was forced to sleep in an abandoned car. It brings me back. So whenever I turn my thermostat up a degree, or feel the rush of warm air as I open my front door, I feel for those without that heat that nourishes us in winter.