The Jo Cox Foundation welcomes the government’s first-ever loneliness strategy
MONDAY 15th OCTOBER 2018
“For every life that is made less lonely as a result of the work Jo started, we will take great comfort"
Together with our partners who have continued the work on loneliness started by Jo, we welcome the government’s first ever loneliness strategy – echoing Jo’s strong belief that loneliness is one of the most pressing public health challenges facing the country. As she herself said: “Young or old – loneliness does not discriminate.”
It is a tribute to Jo’s work and that of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, together with our brilliant colleagues in the Loneliness Action Group, that we can today celebrate the implementation of many of the recommendations put forward in the Jo Cox Commission’s report published in late 2017.
This is the positive vision that Jo imagined: a coalition of local authorities, businesses, and charities, all coming together to help build a more connected, compassionate society for all.
Jo’s sister Kim Leadbeater said: "The work on loneliness has been a hugely important part of Jo's legacy and it is heartwarming to see how much progress has been made on the subject since her murder. It is excellent to see that loneliness is now firmly on the Government's agenda, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been involved in getting us to this point. For every life that is made less lonely as a result of the work Jo started and that we have all continued, we will take great comfort."
Kim and the Foundation believe that the important thing now is to turn dialogue and strategy into action. We are really pleased to see a focus on GPs’ surgeries pointing people in the direction of activities and support to alleviate loneliness. We also welcome the announcement of funding to go towards more community spaces that will improve people’s quality of life. The Employer Pledge will help raise awareness around loneliness in the workplace, too, and we firmly believe that this is the beginning of a major national conversation that will help to tackle the stigma of loneliness, and to understand how important social connections are to making our communities stronger and more compassionate.
Jo Cox Square Named in Brussels
27th September 2018
On Thursday, 27th September Jo’s sister and parents attended the official inauguration of Jo Cox Square in the centre of Brussels. The city decided to rename the square in honour of Jo Cox as part of its efforts to have more of its streets and public places named after women.
Jo lived and worked in the Belgian capital prior to becoming an MP. The square is close to the Ancienne Belgique music venue which she often attended.
The inauguration was led by the Mayor of Brussels, Philippe Close, alongside Jo’s sister, Kim Leadbeater, and her parents, Gordon and Jean. Representatives of the British Labour Party and the European Parliament also attended.
Kim Leadbeater said:
“My parents and I are very pleased to be attending the inauguration of Jo Cox Square and are honoured that the city of Brussels has chosen to remember Jo in this way. She had many happy times living there and made some deep and long lasting friendships. We visited her on several occasions and have many heart-warming memories of seeing how much she enjoyed being there. To know that she will have a permanent place where she, and the values she stood by, can be remembered is a comfort and an honour and I would like to thank everyone involved.”
Mayor of Brussels, Philippe Close, said: “Naming a square in Brussels after Jo Cox is an honour for the City. Her investment in women’s rights, in European construction and her love for Brussels was absolutely remarkable.”
After the inauguration a choir led by one of Jo’s close friends from her time in Brussels, Suzy Sumner performed. The repertoire included the Balkan folksong Ederlezi and Nkosi Sikelel’ I Afrika. Suzy said:
“Ederlezi is a traditional folksong from the Romani minority in the Balkans. Jo loved the region and the song so much that she decided to name the boat where she lived with her family in London 'Ederlezi'.
Nkosi Sikelel' I Afrika is best known as a pan-african liberation song and versions of it are part of national anthems in many African countries including South Africa. We sing it to remember Jo's work in Africa both with Glenys Kinnock and Oxfam and her spirit to continue to stand for justice.”
Kim Leadbeater awarded the UK’s 1000th point of light Recognition
14th September 2017
Kim Leadbeater - Jo’s sister and the Foundation’s Ambassador - has been recognised as the UK’s 1000th ‘Point of Light’ by the Prime Minister.
Every week day the Prime Minister recognises an outstanding volunteer making a change in their community with the Daily Point of Light award. From setting up the More in Common Batley and Spen group to pioneering the Great Get Together, Kim has created platforms that have brought millions of people together in their communities, forging new friendships and giving new meaning to Jo’s belief that we truly have more in common.
In a personal letter to Kim, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“I am humbled by the depth of your courage and by the strength of your belief in the best of humanity which has led you to honour Jo’s legacy in such an inspiring way. Through the Jo Cox Foundation you have led inspiring work on so many of the issues that Jo cared about – from driving a national effort to tackle loneliness to creating the Jo Cox Memorial Grants which work internationally to support the empowerment of women and prevent identity-based violence.
“Your work is the most fitting tribute to the memory of your sister and all that she stood for and believed in. Like Jo, you truly are a Point of Light in our world – and this award is a small thank you on behalf of the whole country, in recognition of your exceptional service.”
“It is an honour and a privilege to receive this award. Very unusually for me I’m almost lost for words.
“Quite simply, when Jo was murdered my entire life changed forever, and I am still a long way from coming to terms with what has happened. However, the support I have received from so many people, including the huge number of hardworking volunteers across the country who have supported The Great Get Together campaign, has kept me focused. As a result, I remain resolute in continuing the work we have all started to bring people together and build strong communities where everyone has a sense of identity and belonging.
So, this recognition is for all those amazing people too – they are the many, many ‘points of light’ up and down the country, who will continue to shine in Jo’s memory and prove that we do indeed have ‘more in common than that which divides us.’”
The Great Get Together 2018 & 2019
11th September 2018
The second Great Get Together was held in June 2018 on what would have been Jo’s 44th birthday. Through 4,500 events across the country, the Great Get Together proved the lasting value of Jo’s example and her belief that we have more in common than that which divides us.
Following this years' Great Get Together, 70% of people are planning more community events in the future and 83% said they met someone new at this year's Great Get Together. That's 25,000 new relationships!
Read more about the impact of the Great Get Together 2018 here.
The date for the Great Get Together 2019 is 21st-23rd June. Please save it in your diaries and stay tuned for updates on how you can be involved!
2016-2018: What we have achieved
11th September 2018
It has been an amazing couple of years for the issues Jo cared most about. From the appointment of the world’s first Loneliness Minister, to the £10 million Jo Cox Memorial Grants and millions of people coming together for The Great Get Together, Jo would be proud of all that her inspiration and example has achieved since her tragic murder.
You can read more about the progress made over the past 2 years in our report ‘2 Years On: The Jo Cox Foundation 2016-2018'
new CEO FOR the Jo Cox Foundation
19th July 2018
The Jo Cox Foundation is delighted to announce the appointment of Catherine Anderson as its new Chief Executive. Catherine will start work in September when the current Director, Iona Lawrence, will leave after two years in the post.
The Foundation was set up in 2016 following the murder of Jo Cox MP in her constituency of Batley and Spen. Catherine Anderson will be taking up the post of Chief Executive Officer after eight years working in parliament as Chief of Staff to Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and The Border.
Announcing the appointment, Nick Grono, chair of the Jo Cox Foundation, said:
“The board of trustees is delighted that Catherine will be heading up the Foundation’s work from September and taking forward our ambitious agenda. She brings deep experience of issues very close to Jo’s heart – from work with vulnerable communities to campaigning to get more women into parliament.
“The JCF has achieved an enormous amount under Iona’s inspiring leadership, including two successful annual Great Get Togethers, a highly positive response to the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission with the appointment of the world’s first loneliness minister, and the announcement by DfID of a £10million aid fund to empower women and strengthen communities in developing countries.
“We are all looking forward to working with Catherine to build on these achievements and make further progress based on the values Jo Cox lived by and the issues she was so passionate about.”
Catherine Anderson said:
"It is a huge honour to have been appointed to lead the Jo Cox Foundation in this next chapter of its life. Iona has set the bar high with her amazing leadership over the past two years, and I am extremely grateful to have been given the chance to build on her brilliant work.
“As a woman in public life myself - with a background in charitable and NGO work both in the UK and abroad, and almost a decade working in domestic politics - Jo's life and achievements resonate with me deeply. To be able to drive Jo's message and values deeper and wider, and to ensure her positive legacy thrives in the years to come, is something that I will devote myself to with energy and enthusiasm.”
Iona Lawrence said:
“It has been an enormous privilege to work with such an extraordinary team of people over the past two years. With a small and incredibly dedicated team at the centre, and an extraordinary network of volunteers and supporters around the country, we’ve been on a journey that none of us will ever forget.
“Nothing will ever make up for the loss of Jo or undo the devastating act of hate that took her from those who loved her so much, but the hard work and determination of so many supporting the Foundation’s work to drive forward her vision for a kinder, fairer and more tolerant world has been humbling to lead. I know I speak for Jo’s sister, Kim, her parents Gordon and Jean, in wishing my successor all the very best and hoping she finds the role every bit as fulfilling as I have.”