Let's unite for the Great Get Together: 16-18 June | ActionAid UK

Girish Menon

Chief Executive, ActionAidUK

In her first speech to Parliament, MP Jo Cox said: “We are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us.” Inspired by those words, and in tribute to Jo – a year on from her death – we’re joining hundreds of organisations to host The Great Get Together this weekend.

The Great Get Together - 16-18 June
The Great Get Together - 16-18 June

ActionAid staff and supporters are embracing the challenge of putting on their own events to celebrate all that we have in common. We are proud to be part of a national movement with more than 100,000 street parties, picnics and community celebrations planned for the coming weekend.

And the reason why we’ve chosen to get involved? As well as fostering community links we want to champion our key values of equality, tolerance, compassion and solidarity. These values are integral to our work and our identity as an organisation.

Finding common cause in diversity

There is a need right now to bring people together, to draw strength from the power of our communities, and for us all to find common cause here in the UK. While recent acts of terrorism have sought to sow seeds of hatred, the response from so many people around the country has shown incredible solidarity, positivity and love.

We need to build on that hope and positivity as the country negotiates a tricky path to Brexit and the new political reality of a hung Parliament.

All of the planned Great Get Together celebrations and warm welcomes taking place all across the UK form a part of that bigger story and offer us each a way to get involved! I know that my colleagues are embracing the chance to meet and strengthen ties with our neighbours. They are preparing a selection of world food dishes, and there will be stiff competition when ActionAid’s finest bakers dust off their oven gloves for our bake off.

Standing up to make a difference

Bringing communities together, and enabling change to happen is a core part of ActionAid’s approach in its work with hundreds of thousands of people around the world.

Ninive and fellow community activists at the local UNAS community group, an ActionAid partner, led a campaign to get street lighting installed in Heliopolis, Brazil.

We invest in women leaders who can help to deliver change. Leaders like Ninive from Heliópolis, São Paulo, Brazil’s largest favela. With its dark streets and alleyways a fear of harassment and violence was limiting women’s freedom to move at night, for work, education, family activities or socialising.

Ninive and fellow community activists at the local UNAS community group led a campaign to get street lighting installed recently. They worked hard to build links and galvanise the community, mobilising their neighbours who jointly took to the streets, carrying candles and flashlights to highlight the dangers facing women.

Their march had a big impact: not only were broken lights replaced the next day but São Paulo’s City Hall made an even bigger commitment to install LED lighting in narrow alleys as well as the main roads – a result that has been transformative for women.

For ActionAid the Great Get Together will have a particular resonance as a celebration of women leaders and courageous individuals who stand up to make a difference.

Remembering MP Jo Cox

Many of us, myself included, have a huge admiration for Jo Cox, for all that she achieved and all that she stood for.

We wish you all a very enjoyable, and a very sunny Great Get Together weekend, and hope that you’ll be able to participate in or host a get together wherever you live.

Hopefully you will have already heard about an event near you? If not, you could try searching the events listed here or you can take the plunge and hold an impromptu picnic or party of your own!

And finally, if you happen to be our neighbour – and you live or work near to our London or Chard offices – please do pop in to say hello during our lunchtime events on Friday 16 June.

To see photos from our Great Get Together, follow ActionAidUK on Facebook and Twitter.