The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 21st June:
Today marks the start of the annual ‘Great Get Together’ weekend.
The UK-wide event is now into its third year and will end on Sunday after a full weekend of communities up and down the country coming together in different ways.
Because after all, that is what this event is all about.
It’s inspired by Jo Cox, the Labour MP for Batley and Spen who was tragically killed three years ago.
In her maiden speech in Parliament a year prior Jo stated that “we are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us.”
In the aftermath of her death, her family bravely honoured these words and established the ‘More in Common’ initiative that seeks to build united communities.
The Great Get Together weekend plays a huge role in that, and this year around 6,500 get togethers are taking place around the country.
From tea parties and coffee mornings to full street parties, events in all shapes and sizes will be bringing people together and making sure we put aside our differences.
And right here in Barnsley I’ll be hosting my own event tomorrow.
There’ll be games, competitions, and the opportunity to meet local organisations, charities, schools and people to help bring our community together.
You can contact my office for more details, and I hope as many people as possible can join me there.
Because I’m sure many of you will agree that it often feels more than ever that our society is divided.
It’s often too easy to find differences with others and focus on what separates us.
But that’s exactly why events like the Great Get Together are more important than ever.
Because in Barnsley we have a proud local identity and strong character.
We have a powerful community spirit that makes sure we look after our friends, neighbours, and those less vulnerable than ourselves.
And Jo was right, we do have more in common.
So let’s celebrate that this weekend, reject division, and show what a united and resilient community Barnsley can be.