The York BID (Business Improvement District) has implemented a City Host programme to provide help and advice to people visiting the city and to provide reassurance post-lockdown. The programme is due to end on the 25th September but has been well received by those who have used it.

Olivia Williams, Wills and Probate Solicitor at our York branch spoke to Lorna who is one of the City Hosts in York.


Tell me about yourself

Hi, I’m Lorna. I have lived in York for nearly three years, in Holgate and I have been a City Host since the end of June.

What attracted you to the position of City Host?

Being relatively new to York, I still have a lot to learn about the city, so I thought this would be a great way to meet people, help visitors to enjoy their time in York and learn more about the city myself.

What does the role involve?

The role involves offering help and advice to mainly day trippers and visitors from around the UK. We give directions, make suggestions regarding where to visit depending on the group, offer ideas for places to eat and particular shops, pubs, restaurants and attractions. Some visitors are simply looking for the nearest toilets or need directing back to their car park.

How busy is York post-lockdown? Are you seeing an increase in footfall?

York is becoming busier as the weeks go by. There are still very few foreign tourists due to the current situation, but it’s great to see so many people visiting from around the UK.

What is the mood on the High Street?

There is a great atmosphere in the city centre most days. Visitors seem thrilled to be out and about again, whatever the weather.

What are the main things that you are helping people with?

York seems to be a city for wandering and browsing, eating and drinking, visiting attractions and of course visiting the riverside and green spaces. Most of the attractions require pre-booking at the moment and this has been difficult at times for visitors, so if we can offer ideas and suggestions for alternatives, this has to be good for the city.

What is the strangest request for help that you have had?

Coming out of lockdown was a strange time for everyone and I remember being asked on more than one occasion what day it was…fair enough! And the poor man who was dashing to an important interview in a very smart suit and had arrived in York without his tie. He was very flustered and needed a tie sharpish! We sent him to M&S, always reliable.

Olivia from our York branch said about the City Host programme, “York is such an amazing city with so many hidden gems, that having a team of people on the streets to give help, advice and also reassurance is such a good idea. I asked one of the other hosts what their strangest request for help had been and he said that he had been asked for directions to the Magistrate’s Court so as you can see, it’s not just tourists that are asking for help!”

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