Barbara Windsor and Team London Ambassadors welcome capital’s visitors

05 August 2015
  • Team London Ambassadors are out at key locations to provide a warm welcome to the capital’s visitors this summer
  • Over 100,000 active volunteers are now part of the Team London volunteering programme, smashing the Mayor’s target nine months ahead of schedule

With the summer holidays underway and visitors flocking to the capital, an army of Team London volunteers are providing a warm welcome at tourism hotspots around the city.

London attracted more overseas tourists than ever in 2014, with a record 17.4 million visits, a figure expected to increase this year. Six hundred Team London Ambassadors – recognisable in their distinctive magenta uniforms – are out and about throughout the summer, as part of city efforts to ensure visitors make the most of their time here. The specially trained volunteers offer a range of information and local knowledge, working from purpose-built ‘welcome pods’ at the Tower of London, Exhibition Road, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Parliament Square, St James's Park, Southbank, Gatwick North and Gatwick South.

As well as being specially-trained to provide local knowledge and guidance to tourists, the Team London Ambassadors can speak 57 languages between them including Cantonese, Chinese, Hindi, Italian, Punjabi, French, German, Spanish, and British Sign-Language. The Ambassadors who speak a second language wear a badge, making it easier for tourists to seek help in their native tongue.

Actress Barbara Windsor MBE today joined just a few of the Team London Ambassadors at Piccadilly Circus to welcome visitors from around the world. Barbara Windsor has been an enthusiastic supporter of Team London since the Visitor Welcome programme launched ahead of the London 2012 Games.

Barbara Windsor MBE said: “I was delighted to join Team London Ambassadors today at Piccadilly Circus. It’s incredible to think that 600 Ambassadors are volunteering this summer and I’m so impressed with how well they get on with the public and how passionate they are about London. They are able to give unique, local tips and advice that only a Londoner can offer. Team London is a fantastic initiative, enabling Londoners to volunteer for our city and continue to make London the greatest place to visit in the world.”

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “London is set to attract more foreign visitors this year than any other city on the planet. It is vital they receive a warm welcome and have access to up to date information they need to get the very best out of what our city has to offer. Our Team London Ambassadors are out at key tourist locations around the capital and visitors can count on our volunteers' passion for and knowledge of London to ensure they have a great time here and want to come back for more. With more than 100,000 active volunteers signed up to Team London, I’m very pleased that Londoners’ passion for helping out in their local communities and city is stronger than ever.”

The Visitor Welcome programme is part of the Mayor’s wider Team London volunteering initiative, which engages volunteers in community projects across the capital. This summer’s Visitor Welcome scheme coincides with a new milestone for Team London as over 100,000 active volunteers are now part of the programme, smashing the Mayor’s target nine months ahead of schedule.

130 new volunteers and 64 young unemployed people are joining the existing cohort of Ambassadors who are part of the Visitor Welcome programme, contributing to Team London's activities to give young Londoners opportunities to develop new skills and increase their employability.

One of the biggest hits of the London 2012 Games was the warm welcome and assistance provided by the 8,000 volunteers, at events and in public spaces across the capital. Aiming to build on the work of Games Makers and Team London Ambassadors during that unforgettable summer, the Mayor pledged to ensure a volunteering legacy for the capital, by mobilising the community spirit and enthusiasm of Londoners to make a difference.

Since 2012, Team London volunteers have offered support to the elderly and young people, planted trees and helped to clean up the environment, supported major sporting and cultural events as well as getting involved in many other projects to build stronger communities and improve the capital.

Paul Toovey, one of the first Londoners to become a Team London Ambassador said: “I love being a Team London Ambassador and am so proud to be representing my country and city to visitors from all over the world. I have been a wheelchair user for the past three years and being an Ambassador has really helped me to get out and about to meet tourists and to share my local knowledge of London with them, helping to make their time in our great city really enjoyable. Being an Ambassador has been a dream come true and I look forward to welcoming many more tourists to the capital this summer.”

Notes to editors

  1. Team London Ambassadors will be at Tower of London, Exhibition Road, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Parliament Square, St James's Park, Southbank, Gatwick North and Gatwick South to welcome visitors to the capital.
  2. Team London volunteers are also busy supporting high profile public events, including Summer Streets on Regent Street, the Gigs busking competition and Ride London.
  3. Team London is the Mayor of London's ambitious programme to mobilise an army of volunteers across the capital. The aim is to improve life in London through programmes that will reduce crime, increase opportunities for youth and improve quality of life by cleaning and greening London and building stronger neighbourhoods. Team London promotes volunteering opportunities for over 1,400 organisations. For information about volunteering opportunities in London, please go to @teamLDN
  4. As well as the Visitor Welcome programme, Team London has developed other activities to boost volunteering in the capital including speed volunteering and expert training and funding for small charities. The Team London Young Ambassadors programme has also been a volunteering success, inspiring young people from primary and secondary schools across London to take social action in their community for a cause they are passionate about. The programme is delivered in partnership with the charity Free the Children, and funded by Spirit of 2012 and Unilever, and has already reached over 1,000 schools, with over 225,000 young people reached through the programme.

MEDIA ENQUIRIES: media seeking additional information should email: [email protected] or call Sarah Dolly on 020 7983 4066 (not for publication)

GENERAL PUBLIC/NON-MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Call the Public Liaison Unit at the Greater London Authority on 020 7983 4100

DUTY PRESS OFFICER: For out-of-hours media enquiries, please call 020 7983 4000