Coronavirus crisis has shown the best of humanity, says Jo Cox's sister

This time of crisis has shown “the best of humanity” and offers great hope for future community cohesion, campaigner Kim Leadbeater has said.
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The sister of murdered Batley MP Jo Cox told the Yorkshire Post that the strong sense of connection between neighbours and communities shown in response to the coronavirus crisis has been the embodiment of what her sister described in her maiden speech to Parliament as having “more in common than that which divides us”.

As an ambassador for the Jo Cox Foundation and director of the grassroots organisation More in Common Batley and Spen, Ms Leadbeater has been working on the frontline community response to pandemic, as a conduit to help Kirklees Council to connect those in need with voluntary sector support or help from the Covid-19 Aid groups and those who are “providing food parcels and picking up prescriptions”.

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She said it has shown the “best of community and cross sector working” and that she hopes the response will lead to a new appreciation of the third sector.

Kim Leadbeater, the sister of murdered MP Jo Cox.Kim Leadbeater, the sister of murdered MP Jo Cox.
Kim Leadbeater, the sister of murdered MP Jo Cox.

“They were the first people that the council reached out to - the voluntary sector, who are on the ground, they know their communities and know where that need is,” Ms Leadbeater said.

She believes that the human response to the crisis has the potential to change society for the better.

Join our new coronavirus Facebook group for the latest confirmed news and advice as soon as we get it“This situation is a total leveller. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, what colour you are - we are all vulnerable,” she said.

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“Everything has to be prefaced with the fact that first and foremost, this situation is a complete and utter human tragedy. It feels wrong almost to think about the positive stuff that is going on, but I think it is extremely important to do that as a way of getting through it.

Jo Cox, who was MP for Batley at the time of her deathJo Cox, who was MP for Batley at the time of her death
Jo Cox, who was MP for Batley at the time of her death

“It will change how we feel about our communities and our neighbourhoods. I hope it lasts.”

Last week it was announced that the Jo Cox Foundation had joined forces with charities, the Government and Facebook to launch the Connection Coalition dedicated to helping the nation form meaningful connections.

“There was a period, in the first few weeks, it felt like there were a lot of men in suits telling us on the TV what we couldn’t do,” Ms Leadbeater said. “And it was very scary. It was necessary but there wasn’t a lot of positivity there. It was very much what you can’t do.

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“What we’ve said, is that you’ve got to flip that narrative and look at what we can do. And that’s what we’ve seen people embrace.

“We can Zoom call our families, we can put a rainbow picture in our windows, we can have a good old laugh when trying to homeschool our children and have no idea what a modal verb is.

“We have to hang on to those things and remember how important those connections can be.”

And those connections will be displayed once again this June to mark Mrs Cox’s birthday, as it has each year since her death, as the Great Get Together.

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While much has been postponed, it will still carry on, with plans to hold the annual Run For Jo virtually.

Ms Leadbeater said: “We are reframing it and having to be a lot more creative with it. By that stage, it will be more important than ever,

“We might not be able to get together, but we can still be together - whether its having a pizza party with your friends or a family Bake Off, quarantine cocktails - all done virtually. We can do all these things, they are just been doing a bit differently.

“The work we have done on the Great Get Together is all about bringing people together on a very human level and we’re seeing some of the best examples of that that you could possibly imagine in the last few weeks, and that gives us hope for the future.”


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