Tony has worked at Parliament since 2002 and is one of the longest serving members of our Visitor Services team. Here, he explains why he enjoys being a Visitor Engagement Assistant.
I think it’s all down to the ‘Big Five’, bookended by the 'Mix’ and the ‘Fix’.
I like the variety of duties, and I always think of us as the 'three Gs’ – Guides, Greeters and Guardians. This is a catchy way of describing how a Visitor Engagement Assistant is a tour guide, access controller and visitor route invigilator. And then there’s the unpredictability. We go into work ready to do anything. What’s on our rotas might well be consigned to the bin within minutes of arriving. There’s no ‘same old, same old’.
If you talk to people who work in our team, they will often tell you that the thing they like most about the job is the people they work with. There’s a great sense of camaraderie within the team, which is never more vital than when you’re dealing with the challenges that can arise from time to time. The friendships endure. Most of us from the original team keep in touch and meet up, 15 years later!
Doing the tours can be great fun. I see it as putting on a show. Many of our visitors will have chosen to buy a ticket for Parliament instead of going to the theatre, or to the movies. So, I try to pitch my tour accordingly, to send them away with the ‘Wow’ factor. It also means I enjoy it too.
We work where great events happen. When visitors first walk through the door, they will sometimes say to me: “After a while it must surely become like just another office.” My reply is: “Never!” I still get the same sense of wonderment when I walk through areas such as Westminster Hall, the Commons Chamber and the Royal Gallery that I had when I was taken around the tour route for the very first time back in 2002.
We have more than a million visitors per year coming into Parliament for many different purposes. That can sometimes mean we’re presented with a problem which needs fixing if the visitor is to get the best possible experience. We’re trusted to use our initiative to come up with solutions. If I’ve had a day when I’ve been able to deal with the unexpected, I take away huge job satisfaction."
Image: Tony on our replica Commons green bench