Lawrence has lived in and around Coventry for over 40 years and is a passionate Sky Blues fan. Over the years, Lawrence has seen many changes in the city, both physically and culturally. Here, he tells us why he decided to volunteer as a City Host and how it’s inspired a change of direction in his career.
What inspired you to sign up to be a City Host?
I was excited and inspired that Coventry achieved City of Culture status and I wanted to be involved in this one-off, unique experience. I have lived in and around Coventry all of my life and have seen the city struggle to find its identity. The City of Culture status has raised the profile of the city. I'm really proud to be part of the experience and I wanted to support the showcasing of our great city.
What have you gained from your experience as a City Host so far?
I have always been a confident person within my own career in education but have never been involved in a customer service environment. Hosting has built my confidence in working directly with the public and working with other hosts - people you may have only just met but united with a common cause of celebrating the City of Culture.
As a host I have developed interpersonal skills and confidence in talking and interacting with the public. I firmly believe that being a City Host has enabled me to proactively change my career as I have now left education and have secured a PCSO (Police Community Support Officer) post with a local police force. Hosting enabled me to give examples in my application and interview of problem solving, team working and addressing issues in real time.
I have also met some excellent people who are City Hosts and have never completed a shift thinking 'I wish I hadn't done that.' It can be hard work; there are periods of wondering what's going on but every shift I have completed has been informative, fun and engaging. I am so pleased that I embarked on the Hosting journey – it has definitely changed my life for the better.
What would you say to anyone thinking about becoming a City Host?
There is an old adage of 'feel the fear and do it anyway'. I would encourage people to volunteer to be part of the City of Culture because 'why not?'. The support team are excellent; fellow hosts are great, and you are in a unique position of supporting our great City. This opportunity won't happen again so go out and 'grab it!'