At every step, Locog recognised that Volunteers were absolutely central to providing what turned out to be described as the ‘happy and glorious’ Games (creating a relaxed supportive atmosphere helps athletes to feel at ease which is essential for them to compete to their best).
Here are a few words to the Games Makers from Seb Coe earlier this month: ‘Keep doing what you are doing right through to the finish line. You can and do make a difference every single day. I salute you’.
Hopefully Glasgow 2014 can have someone as inspiring as that. Why not appoint Allan Wells to head the Volunteers?
2. The training of Volunteers has to be exceptional. Locog had a skilled, enthusiastic and passionate workforce delivering quality training and for Glasgow it should start as soon as possible. Using the tool of test events was useful and necessary and Volunteers were involved many months before the Games started, testing out the Accreditation system.
3. Volunteers need to be kept informed and updated regularly with what is going on in the grand scheme of things. As a Games Maker I always felt I was an integral component of the information loop and at Heathrow there was a daily bulletin with interesting details about who had arrived at the airport, including pictures of Games Makers meeting sporting celebrities.
4. A few basic requirements provided by Locog were important: a good distinctive uniform (I can remember when the uniform was written about with derision, now there are enquiries at the Accreditation desks about where the tops, trousers and trainers can be bought!!); Games Makers received free travel on public transport to and from their shift venue; and the food vouchers provided were adequate and often more than adequate. Glasgow needs to get those basics right.
5. Glasgow 2014 should cast its net wide when appointing Volunteers and look to be diverse and inclusive in its selection process with a wide age range of the population represented as well; this was one of the great strengths of London 2012.
The appointment of Volunteers should be preceded by Glasgow 2014 Frontrunners going out into the community taking the message of the Commonwealth Games with them. Getting into schools would be a good starting point for encouraging young people to become involved in the Volunteering process.
6. As a Volunteer I was asked how much time I could devote in order that a structured ‘shift’ system could be put into place. This structure has allowed me to plan a life around my Volunteer ‘shifts’ and I have always been kept informed of any changes and any flexibility I’ve been able to offer has been warmly appreciated by the workforce leaders.
7. I saw how a well signposted London Transport functioned as a Volunteer and as a spectator heading to the Olympic stadium. Flawless, in a word. Glasgow’s Zonecard for unlimited travel during the Commonwealth Games should be part of the Volunteers package. A Daily travel pass could also be included in the ticket price as was the case in London.
8. Volunteers were one of the beneficiaries involved in helping out with the ticketing and empty seats issue which was resolved with great speed and skill by Lord Coe. For a few days, every Volunteer on duty at Heathrow had their names entered into a mini lottery – the prize was a seat at one of the events, for £5, and in some cases being transported along the ‘Olympic Lanes’.
Glasgow 2014 could try to overcome the issue of ‘empty seats’ by having a realistic ticket pricing policy and as a gesture to the ‘legacy’ of youth allocate 1000 tickets each day to secondary school pupils and any pupil fortunate enough to be drawn a ticket could in turn take along two friends to accompany them – each day 3000 happy children at venues across the city. These tickets could be pledged from the allocation each country is given.
9. Glasgow can be pro-active and forward thinking by now making the decision to offer camping within the city at a nominal cost to the Volunteers. This would be highly appreciated by the Volunteers and would give them time to start planning and organising.
10. Volunteers love helping people and people love the human contact offered by the Volunteers. Glasgow 2014 has to ensure there are plenty of highly visible Volunteers on the ground, each being an exceptional host consistently throughout their shift whether it is early in the morning or late at night. To quote the director of Terminal 3 who I bumped into recently: "It’s the human touch that makes the difference."
All of the above advice is Volunteered free of charge to Glasgow!
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