A time to reflect. 

Tonight the words are stuck. They won’t flow, find any sense of rhythm, in fact they won’t make any sense at all.

We’d no sooner got out of the car tonight and Woody met with us. He was a completely different person to the vibrant, animated and festive man we had met last week. You could have mistaken him for a completely different person. He was down and feeling completely out. The wind well and truly knocked out of his sails. It was pretty much as we had expected. Woody hadn’t been housed, he’d not even been given shelter the very same evening that the council and police tore through his home and took it apart piece by piece. A man’s home is his castle. To us it was an archway, to Woody it had been his castle. But not anymore. He’d taken refuge in a tent that night, but that too had been ‘taken down’ by the authorities. And so it turned out that his castle had quite literally been ripped down twice that night. We gave him some replacement clothing, a coat and a sleeping bag. And of course food. As always he was humble and polite. I think we all walked away feeling a little broken hearted. Silence fell, but the silence was deafening. 

If the grinch was real, he’d undoubtably have a BMDC parking permit.  

But our evening continued. Meeting old faces, new faces, smiling faces, defeated faces. Tonight we met Darren and Tara. We’ve met Darren many times, tonight we were introduced to Tara. A couple united by the very streets we stood on, and in fact expecting a child together. They raised the mood somewhat with their festive cheer. Darren had written a wonderful piece around utilising empty buildings in the city. That will no doubt become a blog on its own.

It was a bitter sweet seeing Dean and Jodie, the young pregnant couple. They’d seen us and caught up with us to stock up on clothing and food. We were happy to see them, but sad they’d not secured a home yet. But with two house viewings tomorrow they were upbeat and we hoped for the right result for them. We stayed and talked for a while. Dean putting Jodie’s needs before everything else, as always. Selfless in his actions, completely and hopelessly in love. Their story never fails to make a huge impression on us. How a slip from scaffolding at work can change absolutely everything. It brings home just how fragile life is.

Maybe it was because Christmas was just around the corner that the air felt colder, felt sadder, if that’s possible. Tonight hope seemed far away, like it had upped and left, just checked out without any regard for the destruction it left in its path. 

I heard someone say, “Christmas is a time for people to be with people who they love”. It’s not always the case though is it? Sometimes the person you love is out of reach, out of sight. Sometimes life takes a turn and right there and then everything changes.

I think this year for us, Christmas will feel very different for each one of us. I think as we open our gifts, sit to the table with people we hold dearest, it will mean much more than it ever did before. 

Merry Christmas one and all. May your Christmas be wrapped in love. 

Once again, thank you all so much for your donations. If you would like to donate, please message us via our Facebook page, project winter coat or email us at projectwintercoat@outlook.com

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