Are you planning a trip to Herne Bay and wish you could arrange for someone to show you around, point out places of interest or just help you get your bearings? Well you are in luck as there are people who offer visitors to Herne Bay that very experience – they are called Kent Greeters and it is free.
Organised by Visit Kent, Kent Greeters are volunteers who are more than happy to show visitors around Herne Bay or any part of the county they wish to see. The idea is to give people an overview of the place they want to visit to enable them to get their bearings and to give them an overview of the area they want to visit which makes for a more rewarding stay.
Visit Kent has been running this free public service since 2007 and has welcomed visitors from within the county, other parts of the UK and around the world. The concept first became a reality in New York in 1992 and the Big Apple Greeters helped set up the programme in Kent. Kent Greeters is part of the Global Greeter Network and more recently has linked up with the Greeter programmes in Nord-Pas-de Calais and De Panne in Belgium.
How does it work?
A request for a Greeter will come via email initially to Visit Kent who then passes the request to a relevant locally-based district co-ordinator. The co-ordinator (who is also an experienced Greeter) will then match the visitors with a Greeter who has a shared interest be it local history, art, culture, countryside or shopping. Many Greeters have specialist knowledge of a subject or language; within the Canterbury district there are cycling enthusiasts, keen gardeners, historians, walkers, architects – you name it, they probably have a Greeter who does it.
Final arrangements are made between the Greeter and visitors including where and when to meet (which is always in a public place). He or she will welcome an individual or a small group of up to a maximum of six people. A Greet usually lasts about one to two hours. Greeters are not official tour guides they are just a friendly face willing to share their knowledge and enthusiasm for their home town.
For further information, to arrange a free Greet or to learn more about becoming a volunteer Greeter go to www.visitkent.co.uk.
Kent will be welcoming visitors from across the UK and all over the world during the Olympics and Paralympics games this summer. Visit Kent has been commissioned by Kent County Council to recruit 300 volunteers to be the face of Kent and give a Kentish welcome to everyone visiting the county.
The Games Time Kent Greeters will form part of the national 2012 Ambassadors programme of volunteers. Volunteers will be located at key travel hubs including Ebbsfleet, the Paralympic Road Cycling event at Brands Hatch and at key points along the Torch Relay route.
If anyone is interested in becoming a Games Time Greeter further information can be found at www.visitkent.co.uk. The closing date for applications is 30th April. Applicants must be 18 or over.
To see who is part of the global network visit http://globalgreeternetwork.info
Article kindly contributed by Julia O’Dowd, a lovely Kent Greeter who lives in Herne Bay.