These are dark times when many question if our country has lost its way. I regularly hear from those who worry about the divisive nature of some policies and speculate on whether values such as decency, honesty and integrity are under attack.
Two events I took part in last week have given me a more optimistic view.
I was able to deliver cakes donated by constituents to care homes on Friday and Saturday as part of an initiative developed during the pandemic which builds on the Great Get-Together.
The Get-Together results from the murder of my former colleague Jo Cox, and the wish to remember her by focusing on gatherings which encourage people to come together for picnics and small social events. It emanates from her famous dictum that we have more in common than that which divides us.
We couldn’t hold these gatherings during the pandemic and instead opted for an appeal for cakes for care homes. We’ve continued with that because of its simplicity which evokes the generosity for which Jo was famed. It’s just about showing a little kindness to others.
On Monday we were able to resume, after a two-year absence caused by the pandemic, our annual Veterans Day event at Swanshurst School. This is an opportunity to bring together those who’ve protected our country and its values, over the years, and to thank them for their contribution.
It involves a short veteran’s parade, a light lunch, some entertainment and an opportunity for a new generation of schoolgirls to learn from the experience of their elders. It’s all organised and delivered by volunteers.
Jo Cox Get-Togethers, cakes for care homes and veterans’ events won’t change our country or the behaviour of those hell bent on division but they’re evidence of the basic decency of people and their desire to help and support others. They’re a reminder of real British values which endure even during dark periods. The kindness of ordinary people and their generous contributions give us all hope.