Year-round thank you scheme launched to share stories, and highlight contributions during health crisis ‘for generations to come,’
The honour of ‘Freedom of the City’ of Brighton & Hove has been awarded by the Green council to ‘all those who helped during the pandemic,’ kick-starting a programme of recognition of city residents that will run throughout the year.
While ‘Freedom of the City’ is a largely ceremonial award, recognising the contributions made by individuals, it has been awarded to groups before. In addition to the commemoration being displayed at Hove Town Hall, the council will now launch a dedicated online ‘thank you,’ portal, where residents can highlight their own stories of individuals or organisations that have made a difference during the crisis. Anyone can nominate as many people or organisations as they like to receive a thanks, and acknowledgements will be shared at council meetings. 
From mutual aid groups offering to help neighbours with food collection and dog walking, to cooking clubs, mental health support, befrienders and volunteer groups, as well as NHS staff, carers, teachers and public service workers, the award recognises the value of both formal and informal help, and the kindness and generosity of the people of Brighton & Hove.
With cases still rising in the city, Greens say it is this kindness, and the city’s community spirit that will continue to ensure people can manage the impact of Covid-19, and that the award will serve as a commemoration of the city’s effort during the pandemic for generations to come.
Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty said:
“The pandemic has shaken our lives and continues to do so. There are people across our city dealing with the sadness of bereavement, and some who have lost jobs and homes. We know too our mental health- especially that of children and young people- has taken a real hit, as has our economy.
“Yet through all this our city’s sense of care, kindness, compassion and community, has shone through. The commitment of so many people, who have kept going, kept the city on its feet and even helped a friend, stranger or neighbour has been a beacon of light and hope that has illuminated dark times.
“The collective support of so many people – too many to name – should make us all proud to call our city home. We look forward to sharing the stories we receive from residents throughout the year that help highlight just some of the incredible people that have made a difference. We come together to say thank you – as the very least that can be done.
“Brighton & Hove is known for its strong sense of community, for collective action, for care and support. Showing our thanks collectively is also about continuing the campaign for a fairer, equal society, that leaves no one behind. This is especially true when we know so many people who we owe our thanks were working on the frontline even at considerable risk to themselves.
“Freedom of the City is just one small way we can officially acknowledge this – and share our collective thanks and our gratitude. With cases rising, it’s this sense of community we draw on to get through the weeks and months to come.”