This year I have watched from close quarters as a country has been torn apart. A militant Islamic group has successfully exploited an opportunity to carve out a sphere of influence in a riven nation. In a society divided by ethnic and - more prominently - religious loyalties, decades of tension between communities has manifested as sectarian violence.
Securing a positive future for all sick and disabled people will not come from dirty politics and cheap headlines, but rather it will come from putting our differences aside and digging deep to reveal and challenge the prejudices against us, even those from within, that have existed since we were living in caves. Only by doing this will the issues of welfare and assisting dying be framed in a new and positive way.
I say ending violence against women and girls requires all of us - men and boys, women and girls, governments, communities and activists. I genuinely believe that we have a common goal. And I genuinely believe that we can work together in a way that does not reassert male power over women, that keeps women and girls at the centre, and focuses on transforming gender inequality rather than just adding men and boys.
We are kicking our kids out; we are turning our backs on them and rejecting the builders of the future mainly because we could not understand their sexual orientation or gender identity. Homelessness creates a state of vulnerability for these young people and makes them easy prey for malicious adults.
"Gay" was frequently used pejoratively as an insult, to describe anything unpleasant and phrases such as "that's so gay" were bandied about to describe anything perceived as negative, from a flamboyant shirt to the weather. As a teenager I was undermined and left with feelings of inadequacy. A
As they clear up the convention centre in downtown Brisbane, Australia and take down the banners and start returning the city to normal, this is the ideal time to reflect on what exactly hosting the G20 leaders meeting has meant for Australia, and moreover for the global community.
Word reaches me that yet another young Asperger has been sent along that false but winding yellow brick road towards a sunlit city on a hill proclaiming the golden words: EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY!
During the last decade, authorities and agencies across the country have found it increasingly hard to find permanent, loving families for children in care in a timely way. The government's plan to speed up adoptions, announced by Michael Gove in 2012, briefly reversed that trend. But it looks as though there has now been a dramatic loss of nerve by many in the social care sector...
If we are serious about tackling HIV we need to prevent, we need to test, we need to treat and we need to care. This requires the input of our communities, political will, co-operation and the resources to make it happen.
Open and honest discourse and the free exchange of views is the cornerstone of scientific enquiry. Without it, ideas stagnate, progress is delayed, and the status quo prevails -- not because it deserves to, but because alternate viewpoints have been stifled.
The Slow Life Symposium - founded by the Indian-British entrepreneur Sonu Shivdasani and his wife Eva and Chaired by Sir Jonathon Porritt - is not like any other conference that I have ever been to.
Epigenetics is a really exciting, relatively young, field that looks at molecular changes on DNA which tell the cell how the genes should be read. It might be easier to imagine the DNA code as the script of a play, epigenetics are like notes in the margin telling the actor or director how to interpret and enact that script.
The voice on the other end of the phone excitedly informed me that I had been nominated and had gone through to the last four finalists of the 'Inspirational Guide dog owner of the year Award for 2014'. I woke up with a bang. 'Seriously!?'
The night was rounded off with a truly thought provoking speech from Paul Farmer, the Chief Executive of Mind. I wish I had the space to include it all, but here are the most poignant messages he got across to the now rather elated, and perhaps a little tipsy, audience.
For two decades money raised by National Lottery players has been re-invested in local communities and national projects to the tune of an eye-watering £32billion. Anyone who has ever bought a National Lottery ticket has helped to combat homelessness, tackle the stigma of mental health illness, inspired filmmakers, kept museums open and parks appealing.
Dying isn't a decision, and the fight for survival is not a fight, where the more pugilistic are destined to win. I think of Sunny now with her rosary beads, as I last saw her - staunchly convinced that her God would show her mercy. But it doesn't matter how relentlessly optimistic you are - just as it doesn't make any difference how many chia seeds you eat.