Basildon’s new mayor has announced he will be backing a charity which aims to tackle loneliness and isolation within the community.

The newly elected Mayor of Basildon, Councillor David Burton-Sampson said his charity appeal will work closely with the Jo Cox Foundation, which was set up following the murder of the MP in 2016.

Mr Burton-Sampson said: “The mantra of the foundation is ‘more in common’ and I really do believe that we have more in common with each other if we can just break down some of the barriers that separate us.

“Whether it’s providing physical and emotional support to elderly residents to help them get out of the house more, or providing more opportunities for local residents to get together, I’m pleased to partner with the Jo Cox Foundation to help bring our communities together and celebrate all that unites us.”

A spokesperson for the Jo Cox Foundation said: “Jo recognised that loneliness was one of the most urgent and pressing social problems of our time, but also one that every single one of us can help solve by recognising loneliness in our own lives and the lives of others.

“We are delighted to start working with the mayor’s charity appeal to build a positive local legacy for Jo in Basildon through supporting people who are isolated and building closer, kinder neighbourhoods - something that is so close to Jo’s heart.”

The first event to support the cause will take place today as part of the Jo Cox Foundation’s nationwide Great Get Together, which aims to encourage millions across the country to come together within their communities.

The Mayor’s charity appeal will also set up a community fund to support smaller community groups in the borough.

The groups will be able to apply for funding for projects which are centred on supporting vulnerable people in the community.

Mr Burton-Sampson added: “I want us to help smaller groups – run by individuals with a real passion for their local communities – get the financial support they need to flourish. They really are the life blood of our society.

“This is about bringing everyone in our communities together, celebrating the similarities we share and building a legacy of kindness and support which lasts for years to come.”

He added: “I am proud to serve as Mayor of Basildon and I am excited about the year ahead.”

The Mayor’s Picnic in the Park get together event takes place on Sunday from 11.30am to 2.30pm in front of The Heritage Barn.