Mak’Em Smile! Hundreds of workers will be trained to ensure visitors get a happy and warm welcome to Sunderland

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Mak ‘em happy when they visit Sunderland!

A new scheme has been launched to ensure all those arriving in our city are treated to the warmest welcome possible.

Mak Em Smile trainees.

Mak Em Smile trainees.

Mak’Em Smile - the new brainchild created of the city’s Business Improvement District (BID) - will see hundreds of cabbies, shop workers, pub, hotel and restaurant staff all trained to provide visitors with a friendly reception.

It is hoped that the result will be an ever-growing team of ‘welcome ambassadors’ who will help to ensure that first and lasting impressions of the city are positive.

Those taking part in the training course will be given information about how to get the best out of the city, covering things like where to eat, things to do, events and local history.

Sunderland BID hopes that it will see the city being viewed not only as being filled with positive people but showing it as somewhere with plenty to offer.

Mak Em Smile, Gemma Dishman.

Mak Em Smile, Gemma Dishman.

Events such as the Tall Ships Race are now less than a year away, with the 30th Sunderland International Airshow also set to take place in 2018.

The first session included staff from the Bridges, Sunderland City Council, Greggs, Boots, Wilko, Station Taxis, Reynolds Outdoors, Santander and Pub Culture and was held at The Peacock in High Street West, with the hopes that by July 2018 around 350 people will have been trained.

Sunderland City Council worker Eddie Campbell told the Echo: “It’s been a fantastic session and something that I think is really useful.

“We need to open people’s eyes to what is available to tourists who are coming here from outside the city.

“I look after the Winter Gardens as part of my job, and the place is an attraction in itself.

“But there are plenty of other things for people to visit as well.”

Gemma Dishman, the BID’s communications and marketing manager, said that while nine companies and organisations were represented at the first session, it could have been filled four times over.

She said: “Getting a team of people who can create a Mak’Em Smile welcome is so important to the city.

“At a time when so much investment is taking place and with events that will put on a national and international stage, we need to ensure that everyone who comes to Sunderland receives a warm welcome.

“Our ambassadors will be armed with the most up to date information about what is happening in the city, and will be able to use this to promote Sunderland and its businesses.

“The training sessions are free so businesses will be able to reap the benefit of having knowledgeable staff who can showcase what the city has to offer.”

The sessions are being run by sales training firm New Results, based at the e-volve centre at Rainton Bridge.

Each employee who completes the training will be given a pin badge, certificate and Mackem dictionary, with plans to also introduce a discount card for participants to use across the city to encourage them to experience everything the area offers.

They will also be kept up to date with news and events by weekly emails.

Any city centre business interested in signing up for future sessions should contact Gemma at gemma.dishman@sunderlandbid.co.uk.