THIS week, people in Glasgow and across the world have been utterly horrified by the senseless attack on a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, which killed 132 innocent children.


This barbaric attack on a school, where pupils should be safe to learn and play, has no justification.

It was particularly devastating to learn that a Glasgow Councillor, Jahangir Hanif, lost young relatives in the attack.

I have known Councillor Hanif and his family for years, and you never think that terrorism will affect those you know and care about.

My heart goes out to them at this difficult time, and our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected and their families.

I spoke to the Pakistan Consul General on the day of the attack to offer the whole of Pakistan our full and unflinching support in their fight against extremism.

We stand with Pakistan during their darkest hours.

Glasgow's generosity is well renowned, and one of the best examples that stands out for me of our city's caring nature this year was during the Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony.

More than £2.5 million was raised on the opening night of the Games for the children's charity UNICEF.

It was the first time money was raised for a good cause in any Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony, and I hope this will continue in Games to come.

There are a number of excellent projects across Glasgow working to help those in need during the festive period.

On Friday I visited the Scottish Refugee Council's drop in service in Glasgow, which offers advice to refugees and people seeking asylum in the UK while their case progresses, and help with housing, education and employment once asylum has been granted.

The festive period is a time for thinking about family and those we hold close.

Refugees and asylum seekers have left their families far behind, having experienced trauma and persecution we could never imagine, and they are turning to Scottish people for help and compassion.

During this season of giving it is important that we help these new Scots to integrate and make those who are looking to Scotland as a friend in times of hardship welcome here.

After the terrible fire at Glasgow School of Art this year, it is fitting that a vintage Glasgow School of Art design which survived the fire is being used as the First Minister's official charity Christmas card for 2014.

The card features a winter image by the late Phyllis Dodd, who was an artist and wife of former Glasgow School of Art Director Douglas Percy Bliss.

This recovered image shows just how hard the restoration team have been working to save as much as possible from the fire damaged building, and offers a sign of hope which will be enjoyed by many people this Christmas.

I would like to wish Evening Times readers a very merry Christmas and a happy new year when it comes.

If you're heading to any of Glasgow's great Hogmanay events wrap up warm and enjoy the celebrations.