Bringing communities together in the name of murdered MP

Jo cox cropped

Charities, community groups and individuals take part in a UK-wide festival of unity

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16th June 2017 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

This weekend sees a major drive to cut across division and hatred in our communities – all in the name of murdered MP Jo Cox.

Community groups, individuals and charities across Scotland and the UK are hosting The Great Get Together to mark the first anniversary of the Labour politician’s killing by a fascist terrorist.

The 41-year-old was shot and stabbed in Birstall, in her Yorkshire constituency of Batley and Spen, on 16 June 2016.

The Great Get Together, co-ordinated by the Jo Cox Foundation, which was set up by her husband Brendan following her death, will involve picnics, street parties and concerts, starting today (16 June) and running across the weekend.

Its wider aim is to bring communities together, in line with the MP’s maiden speech in the House of Commons, where she said "we have more in common than that which divides us".

Throughout the UK more than 100,000 get togethers have been planned between 16 and 18 June, the foundation said.

There are thousands in Scotland – among them events by Glasgow Disability Alliance (GDA) and Hope Not Hate Edinburgh.

GDA is holding a free tai chi, ballroom fitness, music and circus skills workshops on Glasgow Green until 3pm today (Friday, 16 June).

Tressa Burke, GDA chief executive, said: “The Great Get Together is a wonderful way of demonstrating Glasgow Disability Alliance’s dynamic and cohesive community of disabled people, now standing at more than 3,500.

“Bringing disabled people together is critical so that they realise their talents and strengths in the face of adversity and hostility caused by devastating UK austerity measures.

“Now more than ever, disabled people need opportunities to support each other and show what can be achieved with access, support and opportunities.

“GDA has a groundswell of thousands of members, geared up to celebrate all that unities us and over 150 will attend on the day, joined by visitors to Glasgow’s People’s Palace and Winter Gardens to remember Jo Cox and her inspirational belief about our connectedness and humanity.”

Edinburgh Hope not Hate is organising a family-friendly event at the Grassmarket Community Centre on Saturday, 17 June.

The event is free, open to all and there will be entertainment as well as cake, including music and poetry.

Founding member Mike Wilde said: “We have great diversity within our communities and this is something to celebrate not to fear. Edinburgh Hope Not Hate’s aim is to bring hope, support and unity to our diverse communities to counter the politics of fear and division. Our Great Get Together event will be a joyful celebration of the wonderful varied cultures and groups within our city” 

Brendan Cox has said he is “awed” by the response.

And he explained The Great Get Together’s ethos in an interview with TFN.

He said: the Great Get Together is not a panacea, but it’s one example of how you bring people together in a way that doesn’t normally happen.

“I think that there’s an idea of division in society because of the way we work – smaller and smaller workplaces, the way we engage online, the social sorting means we can go for long periods of time without meeting someone of difference and one of the best ways of addressing that is to physically get together in a neighbourhood.

“Pretty much every single neighbourhood has differences – whether they are age, sexuality, where you’re from, how you vote. It’s about getting people to interact with people they might sometimes perceive as the other.

“I think it’s very hard to hate groups when you know people from them. It’s very easy to hate in the abstract but when it becomes up close and personal it becomes much more difficult.”

Find your nearest Great Get Together event here.

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