City Hosts are proving popular in Norwich

City Hosts Elaine Shields and Adrian O'Dell working in Norwich city centre.Photo: Bill Smith

City Hosts Elaine Shields and Adrian O'Dell working in Norwich city centre.Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Bill Smith - Archant

People visiting Norwich recently may have noticed the new City Hosts chatting to visitors in the city centre.

City Hosts Elaine Shields and Adrian O'Dell working in Norwich city centre.Photo: Bill Smith

City Hosts Elaine Shields and Adrian O'Dell working in Norwich city centre.Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Bill Smith - Archant

With the message 'here to help' emblazoned across their blue tabards, the City Hosts have been out and about helping tourists find their way around the city.

The hosts started recently as part of a project launched by the Norwich Business Improvement District (BID).

It is hoped a team of between 50 and 100 volunteers will eventually be part of the scheme, which takes inspiration from the London 2012 Gamesmakers volunteers.

Adrian O'Dell is one of the scheme's paid part-time supervisors. He said: 'I've felt a very warm appreciation of the idea and a good response from both visitors and from local people.'


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The hosts also liaise with businesses within the Norwich BID area, which pay a 1pc annual levy to allow the BID's projects to generate interest in the city.

So far the scheme has 14 active volunteers who operate as hosts, with a morning and an afternoon shift. Volunteers need to be over 18 years old and able to commit three hours a week to do a shift.

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Mr O'Dell said yesterday morning he had helped direct over 50 people and spoke to visitors from the city from the likes of Australia, New York, India and Barcelona.

He added: 'We also had two or three volunteer who were unemployed and wanted to get something new on their CV. Employers want more than university degrees now and this is something a bit different.'

Elaine Shields, a retired teaching assistant from Thorpe St Andrew, is one of the volunteers. She said: 'I love Norwich and have always wanted to share Norwich ever since we moved up here (from Essex) 10 years ago.

'I always like to share Norwich because it's such a great place and I tell people if they don't come here, they're missing out.'

The hosts also give out maps, including for the GoGoGorillas trail, with Mrs Shields adding: 'Lots of people are doing the gorilla walk. I have been taking loads of photos of people with the gorillas!'

If you are interested in becoming a City Host, call 01603 727931 or email hosts@norwichbid.co.uk

- For more information about the City Hosts scheme, see the links at the top-right of this page.

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