Celebrating our Covid heroes

The real stories of the heroes of Brighton & Hove who did so much to help others during the pandemic have been recognised by the city council. 

During summer 2021 the honorary Freedom of the City was given by the city council to all those who helped during the pandemic.  

Since then, people in Brighton & Hove and council staff were asked to nominate and share stories of people who they think were Covid heroes. 

“Best of Brighton & Hove”

Councillor Alan Robins, Mayor of the City of Brighton & Hove said: “I wish to pay tribute and celebrate the everyday heroes in this city who went above and beyond to help others, support their community or keep the city running during an unprecedented chapter in our city’s and our country’s history. 

“Nearly two years ago the global pandemic turned the world upside down. For many people this was a time of fear and uncertainty and it will continue to have an impact on Brighton & Hove and indeed the world for many years to come. 

“However, just as life got very hard for so many, there were individual people, organisations and public services who did everything they could to help others in need and give hope, kindness and support to our city during a time of crisis.

“These people represent some of the best of Brighton & Hove and their stories demonstrate humanity at its best. 

“I look forward to hearing and sharing more stories at future sessions of council.”

“Sprang into action”

At the meeting the Mayor briefly gave recognition to four stories of charities, community groups, council teams and individual residents who were true Covid heroes.

St John’s Ambulance

“The effort and commitment of St John Ambulance volunteers in the city has been phenomenal. Over 15,000 volunteer hours working at the Royal Sussex Hospital, 5,000 hours in support of Ambulance services, and countless volunteers support vaccination centres.

"Volunteers have rallied to support the public, putting their own lives on hold, risking their own exposure to Covid, and pulling out all the stops to provide care. We are so proud of all of you. 

“On top of all these hours, came many more in training people to provide a level of care that they've not previously been involved with, and logistical support to get uniform, PPE, vehicles and more in place.

"Our homeless health care scheme pivoted too, providing a lead on vaccinating the homeless and vulnerably housed. At every step of the way - SJA volunteers have been outstanding! Thank you!”

The Bevy Pub

"While the pub was closed during the Covid-19 pandemic, the team at the Bevy sprang into action delivering a 'meals on wheels' service to vulnerable local people. They are continuing this service even after reopening.  

“I work for the Family Information Service (Brighton & Hove City Council) and referred some families to the Bevy during lockdown, including a single mum with 5 children, who was unable to leave her home.  

"Amazing response from Helen at the Bevy and the rest of the team, who provided hot meals deliveries almost instantly. They do fantastic work in the local community all year round and really stepped up with practical, frontline support when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. An inspirational contribution.  

“I think the Bevy team epitomise 'community spirit' and a 'community centre, it seems like they put a ton of energy and time into creating a place where people can have fun and feel part of something positive and caring.  When people couldn't go to the Bevy during lockdown, the Bevy came to them.”

Special message of thanks from the nominator:

“Thank you Helen and all of the team at the Bevy for looking after so many vulnerable people, supporting and inspiring the local community.  

"Amazing response when the Covid-19 pandemic hit and you sprang into action delivering hot 'meals on wheels' to those in need - superheros!  You continue to be a lifeline for local people, making such a positive and practical contribution.       

Jessica Bavinton

“As soon as the first lockdown arrived Jessica sprang into action setting up an Ovingdean C-19 Action group.

“She created a 3 tier organisation of a steering group, coordinators and helpers in days to respond the pandemic with the aim of supporting the residents of Ovingdean

“She established a central database, drafted and arranged to have printed a leaflet that was distributed throughout the village asking for helpers. From these names the support network was created.

“Importantly a central telephone number, manned all day was set up to enable vulnerable residents to call for help.

"Numerous calls were received and actioned on by the C-19 group such as shopping, lifts to surgeries and chemists, checking on vulnerable people etc or just talking to people. Jessica then arranged to provide PPE equipment, masks and gowns for Blind Veterans UK. 

“Throughout the lockdowns Jessica's leadership was a constant inspiration to volunteers.”

Special message of thanks from the nominator:

“Jessica has been a true inspiration to the residents of Ovingdean, combining her medical knowledge with great leadership and just speaking good common sense in what could be done for people.”

Brighton & Hove City Council’s PPE Team

“The PPE Team was set up last year by Rima Desai, Sharmini Williams and Jenny Garlick, as part of the council's Covid response to combat a lack of protective equipment (masks, gloves, hand sanitiser, aprons etc) in care homes, charities, council services and other organisations.  

“Between them, they pulled together an eclectic mix of incredible people who got the PPE out to the people in most desperate need.

"They set up new purchasing/ordering and despatch systems from scratch with a brand-new team of people from various backgrounds ranging from libraries, to those on furlough from the museums, pulling on the strengths of those individuals, training them up and moulding the PPE Team into a sleek operation able to deal efficiently, calmly and capably with the crisis.  

“The gratitude from care home staff when receiving their much-needed PPE was unbelievably heart-warming.  An inspirational group of people, deserving recognition.”

Special message of thanks from the nominator:

“Jenny, I will never forget my short time with you and the rest of the PPE Team.

"You set up all those systems from scratch, endured numerous moves between buildings, managed all the staff through those terrible early stages of the Covid crisis (some of whom were sometimes pretty broken themselves), you gave hope to the carers, volunteers, staff and health workers when they were lost without their PPE and helped the city's children with their home schooling by distributing IT equipment.  

“You made such a huge difference in the city and you deserve a huge great big thank you for all of this, you wonderful human!”