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Keyworker Profiles: Darren Cooper, Quay Assistant

Quay assistant Darren Cooper reflects on his role at the port and how it has changed, along with his current experience as a keyworker.

What is your current role at the port?

I am a quay assistant at Portsmouth International Port, a position I have been in for 10 years. My current role at the port is securing and releasing ferries, as well as linkspan safety watches to ensure that freight units and any unaccompanied freight disembark and load on to the boats safely. I am part of a strong team, made up of 15 quay workers.

Our duties include working with and operating quayside equipment, which enables us to berth and slip ferries to and from both France and Spain. We work as teams of four quay hands per ship to ensure the operation goes as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

How has this changed during the current coronavirus crisis?

Since the start of the pandemic and nationwide lockdown, I have seen a number of changes across the port and within my team, ranging from social distancing, keeping our contact areas sanitised and other various ‘housekeeping’ duties.

I am very pleased with the ways in which we have managed these changes, in every aspect. Not only being adaptable to ongoing situations, but also keeping the essential supply chain moving forward and doing so with minimum disruption in these very challenging times.

How do you feel being identified as a keyworker?

Being identified as a keyworker in the literal sense is something to be very proud of. Not only have we all adapted to the very varied requirements of a changeable situation but we have risen to it, improvising and overcoming a very varied workload. Although we may not be on the frontline, we are just as important in the whole scheme of everybody doing their part.

What is your favourite part of your job/working at Portsmouth International Port?

As for my favourite part of the job, it has to be the variation from day to day as no two days are ever the same. I have 31 years of experience in this role and port work, and every day is different.

Plus we have the best office in the world, the outdoors!