In recent weeks, politics, as with the media, has been dominated by the crisis in southern Israel and Gaza.

As someone who has lived and worked in Gaza, I have been following developments closely and working with others to urge the UK Government to do more to end the catastrophic humanitarian disaster which we see unfolding there.

Nothing can justify Hamas’ barbaric attack on Israeli civilians and I fully understand Israel’s need to respond and undermine Hamas’ ability to operate, but countering one atrocity with another is completely wrong.

The indiscriminate bombing of two million people crammed into an area considerably smaller than Arran, has already resulted in appalling Palestinian civilian casualties - innocent men, women and children who have no control over Hamas’ actions.

Along with the siege of Gaza which has shut off water, food, electricity and fuel supplies, such collective punishment is against the ‘Rules of War’ and International Humanitarian Law.

These were strengthened after the death toll of WW2 precisely to prevent atrocities in the heat and fog of conflict, and particularly to prevent civilians as being considered as acceptable targets.

History tells us that such tactics will not deliver peace or security  for either Israelis or Palestinians but rather, engender even more bitterness and hatred; thus sustaining the conflict for years to come.

What is needed is an immediate ceasefire, the release of the hostages and an end to the siege of Gaza, with the necessary provision of water, food, fuel and medical supplies. I have written to the Prime Minister to implore him to play his part in brokering this.

It is important to recognise that the current crisis did not start on October 7 but has deteriorated over the last three decades since the failed Oslo Accords.

It is time the International Community stopped ignoring the situation and worked towards re-establishing a genuine Israeli-Palestinian peace process that offers hope to both communities – something which is currently in very short supply.

At home, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation reports that, with the cost-of-living crisis hitting hard, thousands more families in the UK fell into poverty and destitution last year.

However, the report highlights that Scotland saw the lowest rise in destitution anywhere in the UK due to Scottish Government anti-poverty policies, such as the Scottish Child Payment and Scottish Welfare Fund.

It is appalling that 3.8 million people experienced destitution in 2022 – more than doubling in the last five years – particularly when so much of it is due to the austerity polices and mismanagement of the economy by the UK Government.

Indeed, it is extremely telling that the associate director for JRF in Scotland said that the Scottish Government is “pushing a boulder up a hill” in relation to mitigating the effects of Tory policies; yet, with the small percentage of welfare powers that are devolved, the SNP has shown that, where there is the political will, things can be done differently.

At the start of October, I attended the launch of the new Ayrshire Regional Economic Strategy - a bold 10-year plan that aims to transform the Ayrshire economy.

At its heart is Community Wealth Building: a model of economic development which involves businesses, public bodies and charities working together to ensure local communities are involved in decision-making and the wealth generated is redirected back into the local economy; enabling it to grow and prosper.

The event kicked off Ayrshire Business Week, and it was great to see so many local businesses attending to learn more about the strategy and the part they can play in its development and delivery going forward.