MOUTH OF THE WEAR: Could YOU be an ambassador for Sunderland?

Could you be an ambassador for Sunderland?

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 2nd July 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 2nd July 2019, 7:00 am
A few of the graduates of the Mak'em Smile initiative.
A few of the graduates of the Mak'em Smile initiative.

Mak’em Smile is an initiative created by Sunderland’s Business Improvement District (BID), a non-profit organisation funded by local businesses.

The scheme trains staff from various service industries to be ambassadors for the city, to ensure visitors are given a friendly reception.

Although I am widely acknowledged as the sunniest, chirpiest and most accommodating member of the team at the Echo, it never hurts to make oneself even more approachable, so I agreed to the two-and-a-half hour session.

The free sessions attract people of all ages, professions and backgrounds who work in Sunderland. Each session is fun and informative, but with a serious purpose of promoting positivity.

The more friendly, helpful and knowledgeable people are, the better for the city on a variety of fronts. Not least economically.

For example, if a stranger arrives in Sunderland for the first time and enters, say, a book shop, the chances are that the stranger will be more enthused about Wearside if the staff don’t only have information about books, but also hotels, bars, transport, parking, museums, other shops, gyms, swimming pools, or any facility that a visitor is likely to require.

Better still if city centre workers have more specific knowledge; perhaps on rock climbing, equestrianism, canoeing, writers groups, lighthouse tours or aircraft museums – all of which and much more are available in Sunderland.

There is far more going on in this city than the moaners would have us believe. Let’s mention that more often.

While it’s unlikely that the city’s shop workers are besieged with requests for information about lighthouse tours, all knowledge is useful and you never know where a conversation will lead.

And that’s the main thing that Mak’em Smile stresses. We have to engage in the conversation in the first place; and a simple smile and hello are key to this.

Smiling and saying hello? That might sound obvious, but we’ve all been to places where friendliness is regarded as a favour. We tend not to return.