art by Joey Feldman
“We become moral when we are unhappy,” – Marcel Proust
Jo Cox — Mother, Wife, MP, Front Line Activist, Believer — Her commitment to Peace, Human Rights and A Better Britain Go On
Helen Joanne “Jo” Cox, politician, born 22 June 1974; died 16 June 2016.
Jo Cox was a ‘rising star of British politics, tragically attacked by a lone gunman in the Yorkshire streets where she was born, grew up and served the local community as MP for Bately and Spen.
Helen Joanne “Jo” Cox came from a humble background, one of two daughters, her mother a school secretary and her father a factory worker. She spent her summer holidays working at the same factory as her father and understood and connected with ‘ordinary people.’ Securing a place at Pembroke College Cambridge, she graduated with honours in Social and Political studies.
As an ‘outsider’ at Cambridge, she learned that in British society at least, it did matter how you spoke and where you were from.
“I didn’t really speak right or know the right people. I spent the summers packing toothpaste at a factory working where my dad worked and everyone else had gone on a gap year. To be honest, my experience at Cambridge really knocked me for about five years.”
Although she didn’t much enjoy her time there, it did prepare her for her future role in the House of Commons.
Before becoming an MP Jo spent over ten years on the front line doing charity and humanitarian work, serving the needs of the most vulnerable in society, working in key, senior positions for Oxfam, The Maternal Policy Campaign, Save The Children, The National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children, The Freedom Fund, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and more recently was founder and CEO of UK Women. This first hand experience gave her a unique and empathetic view on how to tackle serious global issues.
Jo really cared for people, she wanted to make a difference she was passionate about change. And she did good: calling for cross party support on the humanitarian crisis in Syria, establishing and co-chairing the All Party Parliamentary Group on Syria and pushing the government to make room for more Syrian Refugees. Calling for Royal Air force Food drops and ‘safe havens,’ for the civilian population in war-torn Syria, she was well-known for her commitment to human rights and allowing more refugees into the UK.
Eyewitness to some of the most gruesome attacks in some of the most dangerous areas in the world she spoke candidly about her experiences:
“I’ve been with child soldiers who have been given Kalashnikovs to kill members of their own family in Uganda. In Afghanistan I was talking to Afghan elders who were world weary of a lack of sustained attention from their own Government and from the international community to stop problems early. That’s the thing that all of that experience gave me – if you ignore a problem it gets worse.”
A keen mountaineer and cyclist, she lived on a converted houseboat on the Thames with her two children Lejla and Cullin, and her husband Brendan.