St George’s Day and the volunteers of Kirkby Stephen
On this, the day we celebrate what Englishness means, this year in tourism, could be the year of the volunteer.
Cumbria was particularly hit by cutbacks in tourism but what happened? The people of Kirkby Stephen didn’t just accept it they set up a community group to run the tourism services in the town. A grant from Eden District Council covers the rent for the next three years and 36 volunteers have come forward willing to give their time to help promote the town. Yes there will still be a full time manager but it’s the volunteers who will make the difference.
It’s not plain sailing. They are trying it for six months to see if they can manage it. Now about half way through, they are getting to grips with things.
And Kirkby Stephen isn’t alone. Volunteers are running – or at least supporting hard stretched permanent staff- in lots of towns up and down England. (and in our other countries too) That towns and districts have tourist information centres is some places at all is due to them. And, as I have written before, having volunteers in these centres can be better in some cases than having staff. Volunteers will tell you the places and attractions, the guest houses and B&B’s they prefer not what you might get from some guide book. And they are better than comparison websites because their information is everyday, not weeks or months old.
So this St George’s Day, give a thanks to all those volunteers like those in Kirkby Stephen who have helped us as visitors to find our way around, to see what we might not know was there to see and to make sure that their communities thrive. And let us know where other volunteers have made a difference please.
For more on Kirkby Stephen click here.
image courtesy of Eden District Council