Many thousands visit this blog every month, and have done since I started it all in 2010. I know that you all enjoy different sections and themes. The Paddy blog is, and will remain, free at the point of reading, but I do want to ask you for something quite important at this time.
Homelessness is a terrible scourge, and between 10-13 December I will walk from Winchester Cathedral to Bath Abbey to visit my daughter and to raise money in support of the UK charity for the homeless, Shelter.
Below I tell you why I want to do this at this time, and how you can donate. This applies to anyone whatever your location in the world, as long as you have a debit card, credit card or PayPal account.
I have set myself a modest target which I want to smash, so please give as much as you can via my Just Giving site here, to help the homeless at this Christmas time. Please give.
For all sorts of reasons, people in our great country, men and women, and sometimes entire families, end up without a home, have no bed of their own, without warmth, and don’t get to eat simple, wholesome food.
All of you reading this have these things and more: a job; friends and family to share your happy times with; money; and perhaps more than this, a future.
We have all passed these people in our towns and cities, perhaps feeling guilty that we have not given them a pound. But also maybe thinking that if we did they would only spend it on booze. You may be right.
The charity Shelter aims at long term solutions for homeless people, giving them chances not just for a roof over their head, but also to help them make a future. To get a job and to rebuild their lives.
I have a friend who lives on the streets around my train station in Winchester. He is called Paul. He is an ex-soldier, and served his country well, but for reasons that I don’t understand he now has problems with alcohol and lives on the streets. He is about my own age.
I met Paul in May and wrote about him, contrasting his life with someone more privileged, also a brave soldier, in this poem.
It would be good to help Paul and others like him at this time of year when the nights are painfully long, and damp and cold.
My daughter Harriet finishes her term at Bath University on 14 December and for some time I have wanted to walk to Bath. So at this Christmas-tide I am going to do that. It is not so far, only about 60 miles but I will probably end up walking further. I thought that maybe I could combine my walk with raising money for the work of Shelter.
I will have some modern clothing and kit and will try to keep as dry and warm as I can. But I will live outside under meagre cover, with a simple shelter and may experience some of the cold and damp that is the daily lot of people like Paul.
This walk will not change anything, but it may help some good people who have fallen on hard times and who are really just like you and me. The people who we so often turn away from and walk on by. My walk may however make a small difference.
It will soon be Christmas and we will spend an awful lot of money on ephemeral things. Please consider giving some of what you may spend to help the work of Shelter with homeless people in this country; give some of your hard earned cash to the cause which I am supporting.
Thank you from me. And thank you from Paul.
You can donate now very easily on my Just Giving page. Please help.