Join in with anti-loneliness event "The Great Get Together", 22-24th June (in memory of Jo Cox)

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As Indra Adnan has written, the murder of MP Jo Cox was one of the triggers for the launch of The Alternative UK. So we are delighted to promote the cause of The Great Get Together, taking place in the UK this weekend (22-24th June), begun by her husband Brendan.

The website makes it easy for you to join in, or set an event up - "a celebration of your choosing! Arrange something with your neighbours, find an event taking place near you or join in online. Whatever you decide, you’ll be part of a huge national celebration."

The Great Get Together continues Cox's work - embarked on just before her death - on the challenge of loneliness in atomised communities. See here for A/UK co-initiator Pat Kane's column, citing the research commissioned by the Jo Cox Foundation.

As you might imagine, the GGT are very well connected. The Conservative Government just announced a few days ago that they were putting £20m into combatting loneliness, which includes "a new £11 million ‘Building Connections Fund’ that will be distributed to successful applicants that can help bring communities together." All thoroughly co-ordinated with the GGT campaign. 

Can we be forgiven for a mild eye-roll at a commitment to reducing isolation and social separation, from a government which conducted a binary referendum on Brexit only a few years ago? Maybe a little. There is also the point that Pat makes in his piece, about the bigger context for the question of loneliness:

If we’re starting to make “loneliness” a policy priority, maybe we’re witnessing the beginnings of one of the great societal shifts that futurists have been predicting for the last decade or so. Perhaps we will begin to increase the value and importance of relationships and care, as automation of all kinds demotes human routine, and replaces our machine-like labours.

A general crisis of human work is starting to break over us. And the trends are pretty implacable. If so, we need big new stories about ourselves to hold on to. Ones that give humans a distinctive purpose – something qualitatively different than the machines bring.

And the primary thing we clearly have over them (though for how long, who knows?) is consciousness, memory, experience, emotion. A body and heart that throbs and aches, that glows to a kindly touch or word. A care ethic as important as our work (or play) ethic.

If this becomes what we primarily value – because production has become secondary to humans, and the price has fallen out of our robot-produced commodities – then something like “the problem of loneliness” could stand as one of our great new collective goals.

So let's enjoy and embrace the Great Get Together - as a celebration of Cox and her mission, but also as a harbinger of a friendlier society to come.