Tens of thousands of community get-togethers will be held in memory of Jo Cox later this year, in what organisers say could be the biggest event of its kind since the Queen’s diamond Jubilee in 2012.
The Great Get Together, which will take place on the weekend of June 17 and 18, has been put together by The Jo Cox Foundation and The Big Lunch along with dozens of other community groups.
The event will be launched by the Duchess of Cornwall and Jamie Oliver, among others, it was announced on Wednesday.
Cox, who was Labour MP for Batley and Spen, was murdered outside her constituency office in Birstall, West Yorkshire, on June 16 last year.
The event is designed to bring people together within communities and Cox’s widower, Brendan, said there could be “no more fitting tribute” to his wife than an event with this aim.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that rather than a “solemn” commemoration, his family wanted the event to reflect Cox’s “dynamism and joy at life”.
He said: “I think we’re tapping into something here, we’re not creating something from scratch. I think there is a huge desire for many people who are frankly a bit sick of the tone of some of the political debates, this sense that we’re all supposed to hate each other and actually just want an excuse to come back together.
“When you provide people with that opportunity, whether that’s the Olympics or the Jubilee, people seize it, and we hope this is just one of those opportunities.
“The reason that we’re aiming for the scale we’re aiming for is not just for a pretty number but actually so that we do bring communities together who might feel that tension because I think one of the things that actually unites people across the political divide is there is a sense that close communities are absolutely the bedrock of our country.
“If communities are atomised - whether that’s because we’re in our social media bubbles or because we don’t see each other, if people are lonely, if they don’t know their neighbours - that undermines the fabric of our country.
“So we think there is this desire that actually people want to know the names of their neighbours, they want their kids to play on their street and so we think this is an opportunity to do that.”
People are being invited to come together with friends, neighbours and strangers for street parties, picnics, barbecues and bake-off competitions.
Those who want to host a party or find their nearest get-together can sign up here.
Cox said: “Jo loved a party and she would have been thrilled by the idea of The Great Get Together.
“As she said in her maiden speech in parliament - we have far more in common than that which divides us.
“Jo wanted a chance to bring our communities together to celebrate what unites us.
“There could be no more fitting tribute to her memory than The Great Get Together helping to do just that.”
Further details will be announced at a launch hosted by Camilla, who is patron of The Big Lunch, at Clarence House, in central London, on Wednesday.
The Duchess will be joined in the kitchen by Oliver and Cox will also speak.
According to the Press Association, Jamie Oliver said: “There’s nothing better than a good get-together with friends, family and amazing food.
“The Great Get Together takes it to a whole new level.
“Food connects us to the best things in life - it breaks down barriers, and gets people talking and sharing happy times like nothing else.
“This is an awesome initiative, and I’m really proud to add my support.”
Peter Stewart, of The Big Lunch, said: “The Great Get Together will be a fantastic celebration.
“The Big Lunch is all about sharing food and coming together with your neighbours.
“In 2012, 8.5 million people took part in The Big Jubilee Lunch in parks, streets, gardens and community spaces, all having a great time together.
“Like Jo, we believe in togetherness and achieving a sense of community, collaboration and fun. We want to share that idea with everyone.”