IF there is one thing the Olympics and now the Commonwealth Games can notch up as a dual achievement, it is sentencing the word "legacy" to four years hard labour.
A little word, a minnow, the poor guy has never been so overworked. It's as though the politicians of Westminster and Holyrood are having a mass midlife crisis and wondering, in the way of a slightly balding man in his fifties whose wife no longer looks at him that way, exactly what they will be remembered for?
Legacy. The Commonwealth Games can justify any decision so long as its hitched to 2013's favourite buzzword.
The after-effects of London 2012 are still up for debate - some say sport uptake has increased, some say decreased; 5000 people were given jobs but most of those were temporary; some say the Olympic Village will become nothing more than an isolated island of prosperity much like Canary Wharf. How you read the impact of legacy depends on whether you're an Olympo-sceptic or not.
Sport uptake, employment and regeneration are fine things and, should the Commonwealth Games leave smoke trails of all three billowing in its wake, I shall be as delighted as the next man.
But my breath is bated in the hope of an impact on volunteering. This week the first tranche of Commonwealth volunteers - to be called Clyde-siders, a dreadful moniker - was announced. They were, in turn, chosen by volunteers. More than 50,000 people applied for 15,000 roles at the event, a figure both heartening and saddening.
Heartening, because it is glorious to see so many people offering their time for free to support the common good. Saddening because … well, where have they been?
I wonder how many of the Games volunteers already contribute their time and how many have been lured by the glamour of this one-off event.
The most recent volunteering figures from the 2011 Scottish Household Survey show the number of volunteers in Scotland has remained steady over the past five years. It also shows there is a "civic core" of volunteers who are predominently well educated, high earning and middle aged; in other words, unrepresentative of the general population. A small number of the population provide the vast bulk of the volunteer effort. In Scotland, that's three in 10 people. In England, the Third Sector Research Centre shows one-third of the population provide 90% of volunteering hours.
Basically, we need more volunteers, we need them to come from diverse sections of society and we need to recruit them now, while the iron is hot and in fashon.
Let's face it: few volunteers are motivated by altruism. There's no shame in that. The benefits of volunteering are manifold: it allows you to help a community that matters to you; it gives you space to develop your self-esteem and escape everyday pressures; it gives an understanding of other people; it helps with career prospects, personal challenge and development; it helps socially. And it lets you feel quietly smug. Sometimes I wonder what the charity gets out of it.
Just as much as the Games, both 2012 and 2014, the recession should be doing good tricks for volunteering. It's a valuable route to employment and charities are crying out for helping hands. Research shows people turn to volunteering in times of upheaval or crisis. At the moment it feels like most of Britain is experiencing both.
But we shouldn't need a mass sporting event or economic slump to prompt us to roll up our sleeves.
Let the lasting impact of Glasgow 2014 be volunteering, an army of busybodies improving the land. When the clipboards and stopwatches are laid down, that will be a worthy Glasgow legacy.
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