Having already witnessed the impact of the Israel-Palestine conflict during volunteering trips whilst studying for her degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies, Sophie explains how she was struck by its effects on everyday life for citizens; rigorous and humiliating searches at road checkpoints, for example, turning 10 minute into an hour.
The highest form of charity, argued the 12th-century Jewish philosopher Maimonides, is when the help given enables the receiver to become self- sufficient. But our systems of state charity - aka welfare - have too frequently had the opposite effect: they have actually created dependency. It is time to re-think the way we help people.
As anyone who has seen Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol will know, the moral of the tale is that Ebenezer Scrooge is so besotted by wealth that he has, until visited by the 'ghosts' of Christmas, no sympathy for those unable to fend for themselves... Perhaps we should hope that something similar happens to Iain Duncan Smith
I recently went to a talk by a psychologist on how to parent teenagers... she said that kids today have never had a greater sense of their rights and entitlements. Correct. On the other hand, she said, they've never had less sense of their responsibilities. Also correct. Now the gift of a goat for someone in Sierra Leone or reading lessons for a kid in Kenya isn't going to change any of that, but it will do no harm, and it'll do nothing but good for those who receive these gifts in far-off places of which our kids know little. And these gifts really do make a difference. Trust me, I went to Guatemala and El Salvador with the charity Cafod to see it with my own eyes.
'Tis the season of being generous, and so we hop to the High Street and stress over presents or punch in credit card details online, enticed by 'now-or-never' deals. In this pre-Christmas rush it is easy to focus too much on ticking the boxes and lose the bigger picture of gratitude, kindness and the art of giving back.
Alzheimer's is not the only dementia. Alcohol dementia, is also known as alcohol-related brain damage (ARBD) and alcohol-related brain injury (ARBI), and is linked with Wernicke's encephalopathy and Korsakoff's syndrome. With all these complex names, it's perhaps not surprising that the direct link between alcohol consumption and dementia isn't clear.