Key workers presented with symbolic freedom of Portsmouth

Local businesses and the voluntary community have been presented with symbolic freedom of Portsmouth for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Around 100 key workers and organisations were invited to Portsmouth Guildhall as recognition of their contribution.

Last year Portsmouth City Council decided to award Freedom of the City to key workers and the reception, jointly hosted by HIVE Portsmouth, is the first in a number of events being held as a symbolic gesture to recognise as many key workers as possible.

Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Cllr Frank Jonas, said: “I’m really pleased we’ve been able to invite so many people to come and receive these certificates in recognition of what they did for Portsmouth during the pandemic. Many of them feel they just kept doing their day jobs but their actions undoubtedly helped a lot of people and they should be very proud of that.”

HIVE Portsmouth helped identify key workers to attend the event from those we had worked with during the pandemic.

Revd Canon Bob White, chair of HIVE Portsmouth trustees, said: “The number of people and organisations who came forward to support others during the pandemic, and particularly during the lockdowns, was truly inspiring and a real reflection of the incredible community spirit which exists in Portsmouth.

“Although we can never personally thank everyone who stepped up, this event is a symbolic way for us to express just how grateful we are to those key workers who kept the city going during what was an incredibly difficult period for so many. We hope this event will serve as inspiration to continue to work together and to develop that community spirit.”

It is hoped a similar event will be held in the coming months to recognise NHS staff, with more to follow in the future.

Cllr Chris Attwell, the council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Central Services, said: “It has been a tough few years for a lot of people and without normal people stepping up and helping in key worker roles it would have been even tougher. This event is just the beginning for us, so many people have made a difference and we are going to keep doing what we can to show them how much we value those contributions.”