The family of the late MP Jo Cox have unveiled the foundation stone for a new centre to be built in her memory at the University of Huddersfield.
The new Jo Cox More In Common Centre is currently under construction and the foundation stone was unveiled by Jo’s sister Kim Leadbeater, the Batley & Spen MP, and their parents Jean and Gordon Leadbeater.
The new centre, which will open in the autumn, will replace the existing Faith Centre that has welcomed students and staff for many years.
The Leadbeater family were joined at the site of the new building by students, university staff and representatives from Morgan Sindall Construction and architects Bond Bryan.
Kim said: “It is quite overwhelming to be here and looking at what will be the Jo Cox More In Common Centre.
“It is wonderful to think that something so positive and important is being done in Jo’s name, and I am incredibly grateful to the University of Huddersfield for all the hard work that has gone into this.
“For us, as a family, it means so much that Jo’s legacy continues and in a way that she would have really believed in.
“A centre like this embodies her philosophy around having more in common, as she said in her maiden speech, focusing on the things that bind us together as human beings rather than the things that divide us.
“It’s quite emotional to be here today, it means an awful lot to myself, to my parents, to all Jo’s family and friends that this is happening. I look forward to many students creating many happy memories in this fantastic building.”
University of Huddersfield deputy vice-chancellor Professor Tim Thornton said: “We want our students to see that they have more in common with each other than what divides them.
“So, we are grateful and humbled that Jo’s family have allowed us to put her name to the new centre, which will commemorate her More in Common message as well as her ideas, her ethos and her spirit in a place that will be an important part of life on our campus.”
The 10,800 sq ft two-storey centre will provide a community space, a congregational hall, separate male and female Muslim prayer rooms, ablution facilities, Christian and multi-faith rooms and a chaplain’s office.
Some of the university’s counselling and learning support services will also be located in this contemporary and restful space.
The More In Common Centre will be the first new building at the university to conform to the WELL Building Standard, a system which sees buildings adhere to standards for better health and wellbeing through improved air, water, light and other factors.
Steve Barrett, project manager for Morgan Sindall Construction – the contractor building the centre, said: “It’s an honour for our team to be delivering the Jo Cox More In Common Centre for the university, and we couldn’t be prouder that the finished building will be named in honour of Jo Cox.
“Her message that we have more in common than what divides us is a belief that will be reflected by this new facility, which will be a welcoming home for people of all faiths for years to come.”