Heal divisions in 2020, says Archbishop of Canterbury

Justin Welby at Dover lifeboat station

Britons should make a “heroic new year’s resolution” to contact someone they have drifted apart from, the Archbishop of Canterbury is to suggest.

Justin Welby is expected to call for the UK to “start healing some of the divisions that we’ve seen over recent years”, in his new year message.

“It could be someone you’ve always wanted to connect with… It could be someone you really disagree with…

“Pick one person. Pick up the phone. Send them a text.”

The archbishop’s message, to broadcast on BBC One at 13:00 GMT and BBC Two at 16:30 GMT, will focus on heroism and hope – themes inspired by a recent visit to Dover lifeboat station.

Image caption The archbishop recently met RNLI volunteers in Dover

Footage of Mr Welby meeting RNLI volunteers and driving a rescue boat will feature in the programme.

“We rightly think of lifeboat crews as heroic, although they may be embarrassed to hear that. Yet every time we reach out and connect with someone, it is an act of heroism. Don’t underestimate it,” he will say.

“Let’s go for a heroic New Year’s resolution. Let’s resolve to reconnect,” Mr Welby will add.

“To reach out to just one person we don’t know, or from whom we have drifted apart…

“Meet them for a cup of tea. Make that connection. Let’s begin cementing our unity one brick at a time.”

The archbishop’s message is echoed in open letter by leaders of prominent British organisations – including figures on both sides of the Brexit debate.

They say the 2020s should be a “decade of reconnection” and that people should resolve to “to start rebuilding connections between neighbours and fellow citizens”.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Dame Carolyn Fairbairn is one of the signatories

They write that the UK “feels more fragmented than any of us would like”, but add: “While our politics and media have become more polarised we, as people, have not. There is much that we share with each other.”

The former heads of the Leave and Remain referendum campaigns, Matthew Elliott and Will Straw, are among the signatories, as well as Glastonbury Festival organiser Emily Eavis and CBI director Dame Carolyn Fairbairn.



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