Join the Great Get Together

Jo Cox MP 7 Mar 2017

In the nine months since the brutal assassination of my colleague Jo Cox MP outside her advice surgery, decades of social progress have been put under threat.

With Brexit, Trump and ongoing austerity, our communities are under an intense strain not seen since the 1980s.

Hate crime is on the up, the rise of far-right populism grips the western world and a barrage of "fake news" promotes extremism and mistrust of our major institutions.

Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets in protest around the world in fear of losing their hard won liberties.

On top of this we have experienced six years of continuous austerity and a slashing of our public services at a time when we need them even more.

Those of us on the progressive side of politics must provide a positive narrative to challenge the cynicism that pervades our collective life.

In the days following Jo's death in June 2016, we heard so many accounts of the optimism and hope that defined her life and will continue to define her legacy.

To highlight the first anniversary of Jo's death and in response to the hate and intolerance that led to her murder her husband, Brendan has launched an event to bring the nation together in celebration of true British values - of openness, diversity, respect, social justice and care for our neighbour - wherever they come from.

The whole of the UK is getting behind the event with groups from across civic society preparing to take to the streets with bunting, rather than banners, for one weekend this summer.

What could be more British than a good old fashioned street party?

To mark the first anniversary of Jo's death, Brendan has asked people to hold events across their communities.

It's called The Great Get Together and it will take place on the weekend of June 17-18, 2017.

By asking people to come together for street parties, picnics and bake-offs, we have the opportunity to organise the biggest street party since the Jubilee, and send a message to the country and the world that - that despite our many differences there is more that unites than divides us.

The Big Lunch - the organisers behind the Jubilee Street Parties have very kindly offered to move their annual celebration and will be giving lots of tips and advice.

They'll post you a free starter pack if you register for the Great Get Together on-line.

So why not try and organise an event in your community? It could be big or small, indoors or out - it's entirely up to you.

It could be a street party, a barbecue, a picnic or a bake off. Whatever you or your neighbours decide, you will be part of a huge national occasion.

Many of our third sector organisations, from Help for Heroes to Amnesty International; the RNLI to the RSPB; the Scouts and Guides, The Women's Institute and the Premier League and dozens of other fantastic bodies are getting involved.

As are a broad range of faith and ethnic communities that make life here so unique.

The best way to challenge the division and intolerance that threatens our society is to bring people together from across our communities - the people of different races, religions, class and political ideologies - to celebrate our diversity.

In her maiden speech to Parliament, Jo Cox said

"While we celebrate our diversity, what surprises me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us."

Jo lived her wonderful, but short life spreading her belief that we have more in common than divides us. Let's get together this June to show she was right!

Newcastle Chronicle and Journal

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