“We have more in common than that which divides us”

 In Blog, CEO's blog

It’s been quiet on the blogging front from me in recent weeks. As a strictly apolitical organisation, we have to be careful about anything we say during a General Election campaign to make sure it cannot be misconstrued as support for any particular party viewpoint. Then again, there has been such a relentless procession of hideous events that anything one might blog about runs the risk of seeming trite, unhelpful and possibly self-serving.

Out of misery sometimes comes a ray of hope, and this weekend there are events all over the country to celebrate the life of Jo Cox, the MP who was murdered a year ago. The Great Get Together is based on the message in her maiden speech in Parliament that “we have more in common than that which divides us”. 120,000 events are reported to be taking place and Brendan Cox has commented that this shows the country is “crying out for a sense of togetherness”.

That seems to be well evidenced by the spontaneous reactions and offers of help from ordinary people that have we have seen in the immediate aftermath of all the recent ghastly incidents. The normal human response to the distress of others is to want to help. We all know we cannot give back to the victims what they have lost, but we give what we can to help ease the pain and to deal with the practical necessities of day-to-day life, which must go on.

Crises and emergencies do give this desire to help a prominence and focus, but I think it is in the background all around us, everyday. ELBA works with many thousands of business volunteers every year – but even so, we are only scratching the surface of number of people who might get involved if only they could carve out the time from dealing with life’s necessities, and if they knew the best way to make a real difference. I heard a colleague from a partner organisation describe it as “an untapped reservoir of professional love”, and for me that captured the sense that if we could find a way, a lot more time, goodwill and expertise could be released to build stronger and more resilient communities.

There will be another time to talk about the detail of the numbers of volunteers we help, the great things they do everyday and what more can be done. In the meantime, we are having a simple lunch event for our celebration of the Great Get Together. Being immersed in east London life, and spanning the business and community sectors, we don’t have any problem finding things to celebrate which do prove that we have more in common than that which divides us.

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