Colleagues of Labour MP Jo Cox, who was murdered in her constituency, have launched a new initiative in her memory to tackle the “silent epidemic” of loneliness.

The cross-party Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness has been set up to find practical solutions to help isolated people.

Mrs Cox had been taking the first steps towards establishing the organisation when she was murdered last June by far-right extremist Thomas Mair in her Batley and Spen constituency.

Jo Cox husband: "We feel nothing but pity for him that his life was so devoid of love and filled with hatred"

Speaking at the launch at Westminster, her sister, Kim Leadbeater, said it was an issue “close to her heart” as they had both experienced loneliness when Mrs Cox first left their family home in Yorkshire to go to university at Cambridge.

Kim said: “We would talk late at night about how we missed each other and I would write poetry to express my thoughts and feelings. Having been so very close all our young lives, it was very tough to be apart.”

MP Jo Cox's sister Kim Leadbeater at the Speaker's apartment in the House of Commons, London for the launch of a commission in her memory to tackle the "silent epidemic" of loneliness

Labour MP Rachel Reeves, who co-chairs the commission with Conservative Seema Kennedy, said loneliness was a “silent epidemic” with nine million people describing themselves as being lonely all or most of the time.

“This is work that Jo started a year ago,” she said. “She is no longer here to champion the causes she cared so much about.

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“It now falls on all of our shoulders – colleagues in Parliament and friends – to take forward Jo’s work.”

She added: “The man who tried to silence Jo has actually done the opposite because more people now are hearing about Jo and the causes she cared so much about. An act of hatred resulted in a huge outpouring of love.”

Tracy Brabin at the launch of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness