BRADFORD city centre now has its first official “Bradvocate.”

The new role has been created by Bradford Business Improvement District (BID) to help provide a welcoming face for the city centre, greeting visitors, liaising with businesses and patrolling the area to help keep it clean and safe.

Sarah Crossley, who starts her new role in earnest this week, will eventually be one of a small team of Bradvocates who will act as brand ambassadors for the city centre, helping to ensure the best experience for visitors, be they tourists, day-trippers, shoppers or people who live and work in Bradford’s core central area.

Sarah, aged 33, who is a born and bred Bradfordian, said: “I’m really proud and really excited to be the city’s first Bradvocate and I can’t wait to get stuck in!

“Bradford’s my home town and I love it and I’m looking forward to being able to help improve it and at the same time greet visitors and guide them to discover places they may never have been to before.”

A “mad keen” Bradford City and Bradford Bulls fan, Sarah has joined the BID from the Kirkgate Centre where she was a customer services advisor after starting work there in the security office.

She has wide experience in working in retail in the city and has also worked as a bar manager.

“Part of my role will also be to interact with city centre businesses, so my experience in shops and the hospitality sector will help me to understand their issues and work with them to help resolve any problems,” she said.

“I can’t tell you what I’m looking forward to most about the job, though, because the answer is all of it!”

Ian Ward, chairman of the BID and general manager of The Broadway shopping centre, said: “We chose the job title Bradvocates partly because we wanted to be different to other towns and cities but mainly to insure that we attracted the right kind of people to the post.

“Our Bradvocates must be genuine advocates for Bradford, people who are really passionate about their city and enthusiastic about telling others how great they think it is and we think Sarah is perfect for the role!

“We know Bradford is an awesome city with a huge amount to offer and our Bradvocates will be part of making sure that everyone who comes here gets the message!”

BID manager Jonny Noble said: “Our complete focus right now is on getting Bradford back to business and the appointment of our first Bradvocate – hot on the heels of our new Business Engagement Officer, Nikki Chadburn, starting work – will be absolutely key to the city centre’s recovery and I’m really looking forward to working with both Sarah and Nikki as we do our best to ensure business is getting all the help we can offer.”

He said the next Bradvocate role is currently being advertised and he hoped to be starting interviews soon.

The Bradvocates are among a range of measures from the BID to boost the city. Sparkling Bradford Summer Campaign 2020 is coming. This summer Sparkling Bradford will be changing from an events focus, to launch a dedicated website to showcase why Bradford still has its ‘sparkle’ and remind local people now is the time to enjoy the area.

“With the help of a specialist agency, Aston Services Group, we’re looking for people like Sarah who have a genuine passion for Bradford city centre, a determination to see it thrive and are committed to going the extra mile to achieve a cleaner, safer, busier and better-promoted city centre,” said Mr Noble.

“They have to be capable of walking the city centre on a daily basis – in all weathers! – be friendly, outgoing and keen to offer support where it’s needed.

“We also need them to be keen to see improvements, to help us to drive change and to monitor progress, to be forward thinking, have a positive attitude, and willing to go ‘the extra mile’ when it counts.”

He said a key part of the role was to enjoy greeting visitors and talking to members of the public.

“Above all, our Bradvocates will be there to represent the city, to help promote it and its attractions and to provide useful information to those who need it,” said Mr Noble. “They have to be proud to wear a uniform and always be extremely well presented and confident.

“First impressions count – but so do second and third ones. As well as being smart at all times, our Bradvocates will need to leave people feeling that they’ve had a warm, friendly and welcoming experience in Bradford and they can’t wait to come back!”

This month, Bradford BID also launched a ground-breaking new role to provide face-to-face support for businesses fighting to recover from the effects of the pandemic lockdown.

As Business Engagement Officer, Nikki Chadburn has a brief to ensure the 630 levy-paying firms and organisations in the city centre Business Development District know what help is available to them and how they can access it.