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'More in common' message more important now than ever

'More in common' message more important now than ever

Five years ago, Jo Cox, MP for Batley and Spen, delivered her first speech in the House of Commons. It turned out to be one of the most influential maiden speeches ever made. 

When Jo was murdered a little over a year later, the speech went viral. Another three years on and her statement “we are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us” seems more poignant than ever. 

Not only have we had to grapple with the impact of a global pandemic, we've also been reminded that, despite progression in the last 50 years, systematic racism is still an issue.  

It’s times like these when you realise that community makes us – and we make communities. 

People from all over the world have come together to share collective heartbreak, express support for the Black Lives Matter movement and fight for change, demonstrating the power of community, no matter the distance. 

In the communities we operate inthere is huge diversity in terms of religion, ethnicity and other factors but we have all felt the impact of the global Coronavirus pandemic in one way or another – whoever and wherever we are. 

Many of us will have lost loved ones, know people who have been seriously ill or are struggling with mental health issues. Many more are juggling a new work/life balance with children to look after, working from home and dealing with lockdown fatigue. 

For most of us, our lives look very different to how they did just a few months ago but people have shown strength and compassion in all sorts of ways from the weekly clap for carers to putting drawings of rainbows in their windows as a symbol of hope and solidarity during a sombre time. 

We’ve responded by working in partnership with food banks and community groups to deliver cooked meals, food parcels and medication to dozens of households. We’ve also made over 15,000 welfare calls to our tenants to check they are safe and well and ask if they need any help with essential tasks. 

We also know that our tenants are playing their partWe recently invited them to take part in our doorstep photography project, to help them feel closer to distant family and friends by taking photos of them at home which could be shared digitally. During this, we were inspired to hear how our tenants are looking out for each other. 

By day, Matt is a key worker delivering post but when he’s not on shift, he is an NHS volunteer, delivering food and medicine to neighbours who are shielding. Then there is Pat, who puts garden chairs out in the communal garden every day (two metres apart of course) for her and her neighbours to put the world to rights during what she calls the “Bradda Road Sanity Hour”. 

Born out of remembrance for Jo Cox, The Great Get Together is an annual celebration of strong, united, compassionate communities and is an opportunity for people to connect with others outside their usual circle of family and friends. 

Last year, we held our first Great Get Together in Halifax. It was a huge success which we were looking forward to building on this year.  

While the need to stay physically distant poses new challenges this year, it doesn’t mean we can’t ‘be together’ and stay connected in other ways. 

During the pandemicweve seen the best of humanity with people coming together to support each other in the face of this terrible virus. 

The past few months have been tough but while physically distant, we have become closer in many other ways. Please don't allow that to go to waste. Let's make a habit of the connections we have built up in adversity and show the 'unity' in community. 

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