No matter what the bank says, we should help needy

COMMENT: University has to prove it offers value for money

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I’m a bit skint at the moment, what with buying a house, paying for various birthday presents and, you know, the fairly essential business of keeping warm and putting food on the table.

But I’d like to think that, even though I’m one pair of spike heels away from a snippy letter from the bank, I’d still be able to open my door to a friend in need, wrap them in a duvet, give them a cup of tea and make them feel safe and warm.

I mean, what kind of person would I be if I turned my friend away, telling them I couldn’t afford to help them?

And I think it should be the same deal on a country-wide scale. Britain has a pretty good record of trying to help those in need, whether or not it’s convenient for the country to do so.

So when I hear people commenting on websites and blogs that we shouldn’t spend money on overseas aid because we have too much of a deficit at home, I get a bit peeved.

Now I don’t think anyone can argue that the economic woe is unrelenting. After all, it’s one of the reasons why I’m so skint.

But picture this. In the dead of night, almost without a sound, a stream of people walk towards a group of soldiers.

Suddenly, behind them, the sky is lit up and the booming sound of a mortar strike rolls towards the group.

The people barely flinch. They’ve seen it before. And all they want to do is go to a place where they will be safe from harm.

Those people are among the millions of people who are fleeing the uprising in Syria. Friday was the two-year anniversary of the Arab Spring spreading into Syria, and in that time 70,000 people have been killed in the crossfire between army and rebels.

The war seems to have reached a stalemate, with neither side gaining an upper hand. The only thing that is growing is the number of people dying – and the number of people fleeing.

Our government is among a number trying to persuade the UN to supply arms to the rebels as a way to stop the fighting, and to prevent the conflict becoming a regional war.

And we need to ensure those people have somewhere safe and warm to go – no matter what our bank balance.