City Hall is planning to award the Freedom of the City to two embattled areas in a message of unity to the people of Ukraine.

A special meeting will be held next Tuesday with Lviv and Odessa, two Ukrainian cities, set to receive the honorary Freedom of the City (FOTC).

The plan follows the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, which has seen more than 1.7m people flee the country in search of safety.

The FOTC is normally given to people and organisations, in recognition of their contributions to Norwich, with previous recipients including sports stars, playwrights and artists.

Eastern Daily Press: Protesters gather on the steps of City Hall to oppose the war in UkraineProtesters gather on the steps of City Hall to oppose the war in Ukraine (Image: Archant)

Alan Waters, leader of the city council, said the two cities have been chosen because they, like Norwich, are recognised as UNESCO cities of literature.

Mr Waters described it as a way the council can "stand in solidarity" with the cities.

He said: “This is something we can take forward at the special council meeting next Tuesday when the Lord Mayor will set out our plans to bestow the freedoms to the Ukrainian people of those two cities for their role in upholding the spirit and principles of democracy.”

There has been an outpouring of support for the people of Ukraine in Norwich, with a protest and vigil held late last month.

Companies, including Aviva, have announced they will sell off their Russian investments.

On Monday, Ukrainian officials accused Russia of bombarding cities, including Mariupol, Kharkiv and other key cities, preventing evacuations.

Alongside the people of Lviv and Odesa, Norwich City Council (NCC) is also planning to award the Freedom of the City to The Very Rev Dr Jane Hedges.

Dr Hedges has been dean of Norwich Cathedral since 2014, the first woman to hold the role.

A spokesperson for NCC said Dr Hedges had demonstrated her dedication and commitment to the community.

They highlighted creative ways she has engaged with new audiences, for example, with the helter-skelter 2019 and Dippy the Dinosaur in 2021.

Eastern Daily Press: Dippy the dinosaur from the great west door of Norwich Cathedral. Photograph: Norwich Cathedral/Bill SmithDippy the dinosaur from the great west door of Norwich Cathedral. Photograph: Norwich Cathedral/Bill Smith (Image: Norwich Cathedral © 2021)

The special meeting has been called by Lord Mayor of Norwich at 6.30 pm and will be live-streamed on the council's YouTube channel.

Who has previously been awarded the freedom of the city?

The Freedom of the City (FOTC) is an honorary title given to people or organisations who have contributed to the city.

Nominations can be made at any time, by anybody.

Previous recipients have included:

Ove Fundin, a Swedish former professional motorcycle speedway rider who won the Speedway World Championships five times from 1951 to 70. During this time he was a rider for the Norwich Stars team. At the time he was awarded the FOTC in 2006 he was only the second non-English person to be given the honour.

Colin Self, a Norfolk-born English pop artist, whose work addressed Cold War politics. Mr Self was a passionate advocate for Norwich and led an active involvement in the cultural life of the city.

Sir Robert and Lady Sainsbury for their contribution to the arts in Norwich through the Sainsbury Centre at the UEA.

Arthur Miller, an American playwright, essayist and screenwriter whose works include the Death of a Salesman was awarded the FOTC for a contribution to the city and the UEA.

Organisations including Anglia TV, Aviva, and the Norwich City Football club have also all received the honour.