Leading figures say UK must heal wounds from ‘decade of division’

Leading figures from the third sector, business and religion have called on UK citizens to start ‘rebuilding connections’ with each and heal the wounds from a ‘decade of division’.

People who have signed the open letter, released on New Years Day, include Tim Roache, general secretary of the GMB union, Jacqui Smith, chair of the Jo Cox Foundation, and former leaders of the Vote Leave and Britain Stronger in Europe campaigns.

The letter reads that ‘if we are not happy with the state of our society’ then ‘it falls to us all to do something about it’. It urges UK citizens to find common ground with each other to help bridge social divides which have been exacerbated due to turbulent political times in recent years.

Recent surveys from think tank British Future have shown there is a sense of division and disconnection in the country today, with 69% of people saying they are angrier about politics and society than they were before the EU referendum and 21% of the adult population – nearly 11 million people – reporting that they often or always feel lonely.

However, trust in each other remains high and has even increased: 82% of people agree that their area is a place where people from different backgrounds get on well together.

The letter in full is below, along with the names of

If we are not happy with the state of our society, it falls to us all to do something about it. New Year is the time for resolutions and on this first day of the 2020s, we urge others to join us in making a resolution for the new decade.

Our resolution is to reconnect. To reach out to just one person we don’t know, or from whom we have drifted apart. To start rebuilding connections between neighbours and fellow citizens.

While our politics and media have become more polarised we, as people, have not. There is much that we share with each other: sit any two people down together and they will find some common ground.

So the power of reconnection will depend on how many of us, as citizens, step up together. Every institution, too – not just government but education, business, sport, civic society and faith – should play its part in helping bridge social divides.

Today is about a small first step that we can all take – to leave behind a decade of division and begin our decade of reconnection.


Amanda Watkin, General Secretary, Rotary Club International Great Britain and Ireland;

Angela Salt OBE, Chief Executive, Girlguiding;

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, Director, CBI;

Emily Eavis, Organiser, Glastonbury Festival;

Sir Hugh Robertson, Chair, British Olympic Association;

Jacqui Smith, Chair, Jo Cox Foundation;

James Mitchinson, Editor, Yorkshire Post;

Jasvir Singh OBE, Chair, City Sikhs

John E McGrath, Artistic Director, Manchester International Festival.

Karl Wilding, Chief Executive, NCVO;

Kwame Kwei-Armah OBE, Artistic Director, Young Vic;

Lynne Stubbings, Chair of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes;

Matt Hyde, Chief Executive, Scouts Association;

Matthew Elliot, former Chief Executive, Vote Leave;

Maurice Ostro OBE, Vice Chair, Council of Christians and Jews

Mike Sharrock, Chief Executive, British Paralympic Association;

Mustafa Field OBE, Director, Faiths Forum for London

Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds;

Rabbi Nicky Liss, Chair, Rabbinic Council of the United Synagogue and Rabbi of Highgate United Synagogue;

Paul Reddish, Chief Executive, Volunteering Matters;

Imam Qari Asim MBE, Chair, Mosques & Imams National Advisory Board;

Sabir Zazai, Chief Executive, Scottish Refugee Council;

Sanjay Jagatia, Chair, Hindu Think Tank UK

Sunder Katwala, Director, British Future;

Professor Ted Cantle CBE, Chair, Belong – the Cohesion and Integration Network;

Tim Roache, General Secretary, GMB;

Dr Victoria Winckler, Director, The Bevan Foundation;

Will Straw CBE, former Executive Director, Britain Stronger in Europe.


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