Michael Dugher MP

Working hard for Barnsley East

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Michael vows to honour Jo Cox in 2017

On New Year's Eve we sing: "Should auld acquaintance be forgot?" Rather like the character in in the film 'When Harry Met Sally', I've never understood why we sing it. I certainly don't believe it.

Many of us have lost loved ones in the past year – friends and relatives. New Year's Eve is often when we think of them. I thought about my grandmother, who died before Christmas of dementia.

2016 was also year that saw the passing of so many of the 'great and the good' - pop stars, actors, and TV personalities.

For me, I'll always remember that 2016 was the year that Jo Cox was murdered. She had only been an MP for a year, but she made such a difference. 

I first met this fiercely brave Yorkshire woman 20 years ago. And this Christmas I thought in particular about her husband - my old mate Brendan - and their young children.

It's hard to see what good could possibly come out of the horrific circumstances surrounding her death. 

But before she died, Jo was working with MPs from all parties on tackling loneliness in our society. Her Commission on Loneliness will launch at the end of this month and will look at finding solutions to a problem that affects so many people in our society. 

According to Age UK, 82,500 people aged over 60 in Yorkshire and the Humber were on their own over the festive season.  Across the country, around 1.2 million people are said to be “chronically lonely” or had been coping with loneliness for years.

We should all be doing more to visit neighbours, relatives and friends that might benefit from a bit of company.

2016 was the year when we said a sad farewell to Jo Cox, but let's make 2017 a year when she will not be forgotten - and where we honour her memory by continuing the work she began. 

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