The sister of murdered MP Jo Cox says her family remain on “autopilot” as the second annual national event in her memory gears up to be even bigger than the first.
Kim Leadbeater said enthusiasm for the Great Get Together, held the weekend of June 22-24 on what would have been the Labour politician’s 44th birthday, has seen community events planned across the country.
The UK-wide event is inspired by the “more in common” philosophy of Mrs Cox, who was killed by neo-Nazi terrorist Thomas Mair in her Batley and Spen constituency on June 16 2016.
Speaking about the “pivotal point” of the two-year anniversary, Miss Leadbeater said: “I think because of the public nature of what happened to us, we were sort of on autopilot for the first 12 months and to some extent still are.
“But then there’s a sense of reality which dawns and then you realise... this isn’t a short-term thing, our lives will never be the same again.
“I think that’s a gradual process and I don’t know when that starts or finishes. This year is tough but I’m undeterred, and we’ll keep going.”
The Great Get Together is a project of not-for-profit company More in Common, in partnership with the Jo Cox Foundation.
Miss Leadbeater said the resignation of Mrs Cox’s widower Brendan after admitting “inappropriate” behaviour while he worked at Save the Children in 2015 has done nothing to halt the foundation’s work.
She said it does not detract from their goals of championing the issues Mrs Cox cared most about, such as combating loneliness.
And she said the family continue to support the father of Jo’s two children, who were aged just five and three at the time of her death.
Miss Leadbeater said Mr Cox is no longer involved in the foundation at all, but added: “Absolutely, we will always support Brendan, he’s the father of two children who have been involved in the most horrific of incidents and will have to grow up without their mum – we will always support him with that.”
Miss Leadbeater, 42, from Gomersal in West Yorkshire, said this year’s Great Get Together promises to be even larger than last year’s, with thousands of people signing up for some of the larger events across the country.
They form part of a UK-wide initiative which encourages people to stage a range of activities designed to bring communities closer together, from dog walks to street parties.
It was inspired by the maiden speech Mrs Cox made as an MP in the House of Commons, which contained the line “we are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us”.
Miss Leadbeater said: “It feels bigger this year, literally just today people have been sending me messages with banners going up in their towns.
“It’s amazing, people send me pictures from all over the world where they’ve seen those words (more in common) on a lift door, on a wall, in a park somewhere, sometimes credited to Jo, sometimes just there as the words in their own right, and that is so powerful and so heartwarming to see those words used – we had no idea that would happen.”
People can sign up to stage or find a community event at www.greatgettogether.org