After a summer which has seen Britain seemingly more divided than ever, an organisation has begun to start healing divisions by bringing people together with events organised around food and games.
A grassroots collective – ‘Hope not Hate’ – seek to challenge and defeat the politics of hate and extremism within local communities, whilst building resilience against the politics of hate and fear, at a local and national level.
“Over the weekend of the 3rd and 4th September, there were more than 80 #MoreInCommon events which took place across the UK.”
The aim of the weekend was for people to have fun, but the intent behind the merriment was serious: to show that, like Jo Cox said, people have ‘more in common than that which divides us’.
The organisers wanted to provide a fitting tribute to her memory and in Jo Cox’s constituency of Batley and Spen, there were community festivals, street parties and conversations over cups of tea.
Paul Meszaros, the Yorkshire organiser, said: “The Batley event was really good. Despite the wet weather, thousands of people turned up.
“There were donkey rides, a climbing wall and face painting. You name it, we had it.
“The turnout was astonishing. The united mood after MP Jo Cox’s death was very strong. We all wanted to stand together. That’s why we saw the big turn outs. It was pouring down but people still came.”
As well as entertainment for the younger attendees, there was also plenty on offer for people of all ages.
“Organisers gave out 1,000 meals for free,” Paul added. “It was a food and cultural celebration. We had Syrian food and Syrian dancers, Irish bread making, singers from around the world and Caribbean drummers.”
Paul took his daughter with him to Batley whilst his wife went with the rest of the family to Bradford.
“It was all very good. We’re already talking about doing another one next year,” he said.
“We had that period just before and after the Brexit vote where there were racist attacks everywhere and a nasty old atmosphere.
“What this event has made clear is that there are so many ordinary people that don’t want to sign up for that. People want to live in harmony. Jo Cox’s comment that we have more in common than that which divides us struck a chord in this moment in time.
“All these little events tapped into her ethos.”