IT has suddenly come to my final Evening Times column of 2013! I’d like to wish all the readers of the Evening Times all the best for the festive season, a very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.
2014 is going to be an eventful, exciting year for Glasgow and the whole of Scotland, with our city hosting the Commonwealth Games and Scotland hosting the Ryder Cup, celebrating the Year of Homecoming and, of course, the historic referendum on Scottish independence.
Over the past few weeks I’ve enjoyed sporting my rather garish Christmas jumper to raise money for Save the Children, and have encouraged folk to buy Fairtrade products this Christmas.
However, this year’s festive season in Glasgow will, of course, be tinged with sadness. Glasgow has suffered the tragic loss of 10 individuals in the awful accident at the Clutha Vaults, and I will have the families and friends of those affected in my thoughts at this time.
Christmas is a time where we get to spend more time with our loved ones; however there are some in Glasgow  who will not be able to do this, and may celebrate Christmas alone or on the streets.
It is heart-warming to hear about all of the different projects and initiatives which are taking place in Glasgow to provide much-needed support and supplies to the most vulnerable in society.
Projects and iInitiatives which take place through schools are especially important, as they allow young people to be aware of issues such as homelessness and poverty from an early age, and instil in them a desire to change these circumstancesthings for the better.
I was able to visit two coffee mornings in the east end of Glasgow last weekend to see the hard work put in by pupils from All Saints Secondary School who have been collecting winter food essentials for the elderly in their community. These parcels of essentials are being distributed in local sheltered housing complexes, and the coffee mornings were a chance for people to come andcollect the food parcels in person and enjoy a hot drink and a blether.
I am so pleased that our young people are getting involved in their communities andhelping those who need it the most.
On the Scottish Parliament’s final day of proceedings for 2013, I closed a Member’s Debate on the UK Government’s “Go Home” campaign.
This despicable campaign included vans which drove around the streets of London, targeting asylum seekers, and posters and messaging  in the Home Office’s premises on Brand Street in Glasgow. Contributions came from across the chamber and it was an important debate to have in the Parliament..
I am very pleased that the UK Government stood down after public pressure and will no longer continue with this campaign.
I have personally  been called every racist slur under the sun, but what hurts the most is being told to ‘go home’. I was born and raised in Glasgow, and no one has the right to tell me to go home. If someone thinks I should, they are welcome to give me the bus fare to the south side of Glasgow and I’ll be on my way.
I’d like to wish all Glaswegians a happy, healthy festive break and lang may yer lum reek!