There is an excellent new ad from Heineken beer that shows different people coming together who are worlds apart in their views. They start by expressing these views about politics, feminism, climate change and gender. The act of bringing them together to get to know each other and collaborate on various tasks is transformative and they end up understanding and respecting each other and forming friendships.
This is a very timely ad that hacks in to the big issues of division and separation that confront the world right now. As an ex advertising person I love it because it exposes a deep truth that there is more that unites us than divides us. Now as a charity worker it rather frustrates me, because we should have made this ad featuring a Muslim, a Christian, and a Jew, being brought together to get to know each other.
We already know the transformative nature of these collaborations because our charity Near Neighbours brings people together - people of difference, in divided neighbourhoods around this country in places like Luton, Bradford, East London and Birmingham. And when we do this, real relationships of trust and understanding are built that can transform lives and whole communities. Like when the local Mosque raised money to have the Synagogue roof fixed in Bradford or when Muslims and Christians came together to feed the homeless in Leicester.
It is in the same spirit that Near Neighbours is hosting a vital event tonight with Brendan Cox, husband of the murdered MP, Jo Cox to launch the Great Get Together to different faith groups. For hate and division to rule in our towns and cities all we have to do is stand by and let it happen. You can join a movement of bringing people together across this country that has been celebrating our diversity for years.