A Festival City Welcome for the First Minister

A new community volunteer force created for the 70th anniversary of Edinburgh as the festival city practised their visitor welcome on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon this morning. 

Since its birth in 1947, the festival city has grown to become a global phenomenon – attracting visitors from across the world and attendance numbers on a par with a FIFA World Cup.

In celebration of 2017 as the 70th anniversary year, Edinburgh’s Festivals are piloting a new Festival City Volunteer scheme inspired by the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Host City Volunteers programme. This August over forty volunteers from age nineteen to seventy nine, have come together from across Edinburgh’s communities to provide a warm welcome to the visitors flocking to key festival sites around the capital.

First Minister meets Festival Volunteers

The volunteer project aims to offer visitors local advice from city residents, at the same time as supporting participants through development of their tourism knowledge and customer service skills. The festivals aim to grow the scheme in the future by working with partners and funders who recognise Edinburgh’s unique opportunity of staging a major event on this scale every year, when the eyes of the world turn to Scotland.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: These volunteers have shown wonderful community spirit and generosity in dedicating their time to showcasing the very best of Edinburgh’s festival spirit, particularly during this special 70th anniversary year. The fact the volunteers come from such a wide range of backgrounds show that projects like this can make a huge difference in breaking down barriers and promoting inclusiveness, and I am delighted to come along and thank them personally.”

Councillor Donald Wilson, Edinburgh’s Culture and Communities Convener, added: “Who better to champion the city and the festivals in this milestone year than our citizens? This is a fantastic opportunity for both seasoned and new festival fans to be part of the beating heart of Edinburgh in August.  As a key funding partner, the Council is delighted to see this programme shine a spotlight on our people and our communities, provide vital training and skills development, and the opportunity to share Edinburgh’s love of culture with visitors from all over the world.”

From Newington to Pilton, the festivals have worked with partners including Volunteer Edinburgh, the City of Edinburgh Council, Edinburgh College and VisitScotland, as well as community groups, to attract people from communities throughout Edinburgh. Lothian Buses have generously supported the volunteers’ uniforms and transport, and in preparation for the new roles, the volunteers completed two days of certified training combined with walking and bus tours to familiarise them with key venues and festivals spaces. 

Festival City Volunteer Moira Berry commented: “Edinburgh is my city.  I was born and bred here and have lived my 67 years here.  I’m proud of Edinburgh and want to share my love for the city.  Having grown up with Festivals every August I have local knowledge and background.  It is a pleasure to chat with visitors and not only give directions on where to get buses or pick up tickets, but just share a special titbit or have a bit of banter.  As a Festival City Volunteer I have even expanded my own knowledge of our Edinburgh.”

Throughout the month volunteers will enjoy access to a range of events and behind the scenes experiences which have included the Edinburgh International Festival’s opening spectacular event Bloom; the preview night at The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and ongoing free ticket offers.  Following completion of the project the trained volunteers will have the opportunity to take part in other festivals and events throughout the year, and will be supported to progress to other activities that will help them realise their individual ambitions. 

Find out more at http://www.edinburghfestivalcity.com/

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