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2012 volunteers 'in danger of being too middle class'

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Adrian Warner | 11:37 UK time, Wednesday, 15 September 2010

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I've always said that the volunteers I have met at past Olympics have been some of the most interesting people you could ever talk to.

They often do rather boring and tiring jobs just to be part of the Games. And they do it with a smile.

I know thousands and thousands of people have already said they are interested in being what they are calling "Games Makers" in 2012. From today, thousands more will be signing up.

But I'm worried that the scheme is not really going to be for the less privileged in our society, some of whom would benefit the most from such a rewarding role. And I also don't think it is going to be for the whole country.

BBC London interviewed youngsters in Derby the other day. They are keen volunteers already but they haven't got the money to pay for accommodation during the Games. There's no free accommodation for volunteers during 2012 so how are they going to be able to be part of the scheme?

Not everybody has a friend or relative in London with a bed free in the summer of 2012.

I know when I was growing up in Coventry in the 1970s that I wouldn't have known anybody who could have helped me in London if the Games hadn't been then. And neither would many of my friends.

2012 are doing nothing about this. I'm not saying taxpayers' cash should be spent on accommodation. But I do believe the Olympic sponsors should step up to the mark and pay for some student rooms for volunteers from outside of London.

How about McDonald's sponsoring volunteers from the North East of England? Lloyds Bank paying for youngsters from Wales? (I know, that would be a bit of public cash!) BT backing volunteers from the Midlands?

Surely this would be great publicity? And it would also mean the London Olympics are for the whole of the UK, not just London and the south-east.

2012 keep telling us they want a Games for Britain. Now is the time to prove it.


  • Comment number 1.

    Adrian, I agree entirely with your comments although we'd also need someone to sponsor any Scottish volunteers. I'm sure there will be others from Scotland, like myself and my wife, who would love to be part of this event but will be unable to do so because of the high costs involved. Not only would we have to get accommodation, but also the travel costs would be highly prohibitive. Would the Olympic committee consider setting up caravan/camping sites and laying on travel from them to the games venues? If that was an option, I would put my name down right away as I could bring my own caravan and stay in that.

  • Comment number 2.

    I agree that the London Olympics should be for the whole of the UK and
    not just for London and the south-east. I would like to ask a very reasonable question: shouldn't the whole of the UK be paying for it through their council tax as we have to? We have no choice, we have to pay or go to jail. What do we get for it? The opportunity to volunteer to be a "Games Maker" because we live in London or Greater London so we
    will not need to pay for accommodation!
    Is it fair?

  • Comment number 3.

    Alistair. What a great idea. How about a sponsor paying for the rental of a caravan park or temporary homes? I know 2012 officials read my blog regularly so you've already made your point to them. I will put it to them again.

  • Comment number 4.

    Thanks for all the whinging about London / SE and banging on about the "fairness" of it all.

    1 It's the LONDON Olympics, so get over it - London taxpayers are paying more than others through the poll tax
    2 Interesting you should mention Coventry: the Olympics are multi-site event and Coventry will be hosting football. There are also events in Essex, Scotland, Wales, Dorset and Manchester for people to see if they have friends with a free bed in 2012

  • Comment number 5.

    Sorry - I should also have included Newcastle on the last as well!

  • Comment number 6.

    It would be great if sponsors put up some money to enable volunteers from all over the country (and beyond) to be able to stay in London during the games. I'm lucky as I live in Newham, so if I get selected I have no worries, but for others like the students you mentioned, it really will be trickier for them.

  • Comment number 7.

    With so many corporates profitably promoting their products and services (I believe it's called sponsorship) and professional athletes and the usual pundits appearing isn't it a bit rich enticing people to volunteer, finding their own travel and accommodation costs.

    Let's make it really cheesey by endowing them with the "gamesmaker"? What paid PR guru thought that one up?

    Is Johnathan Edwards and the rest of the games global establshment making their services available for free? This is the games blatantly milking susceptible people's goodwill. Would the games be at all "affordable", would the games be sponsorable without this naked exploitation?

  • Comment number 8.

    I think there's another aspect to this that people are forgetting or don't know about. The volunteer process is open to ALL EU NATIONALS, so there is a chance that people other than UK nationals can volunteer to participate. I don't think there is anything that can be done about this either from a legal perspective, but I would have preferred the pool of volunteers to be drawn from the hosting nation!

  • Comment number 9.

    Jason, The problem of recruiting people from the hosting nation is that most of the UK can barely manage coherent English, let alone be able to efficiently communicate in a number of world languages.

    Besides, why not?! All Olympics held in Europe are open to EU nationals – such was the case in Greece and Spain. Why should the London Olympics be any different?

  • Comment number 10.

    The sponsoring companies are already contributing considerably in different ways to be associated with the Games. As well as giving cash, they're providing goods and services free of charge and seconding staff (some for several years) to LOCOG.
    They're all given a number of "Games Maker" slots to allocate to their employees and at least some of them are giving them paid leave for the time spent.
    What's to stop a company or other organisation not currently associated with the Games from providing the volunteers with free accommodation?

  • Comment number 11.

    The other way is to do some bartering between the young folks and people in London who might house them?

    1. Would they do 5 days gardening in lieu of 14 days free accommodation either before or after the games?
    2. Would they decorate someone's room for them for the same?

    Things like that.

    Sure, sponsorship's one way, but you could equally think about what the young people could do in return for some free accommodation?

  • Comment number 12.

    Has anyone succeeded in signing up as a volunteer for 2012. I have tried to use the convoluted application process and failed - there is no obvious process for getting past the Eddie Izzard video!
    I must be getting stupid in my old age.. If anyone developed that website in my company they would be fired but if you've managed to find a way round it please comment

  • Comment number 13.

    > Has anyone succeeded in signing up as a volunteer for 2012 ?

    For me, that was the EASY part. :-)

    For the HARD part, keep reading!

    I was a volunteer for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and then the Paralympics. It was a great experience, and that encouraged me to apply to become a "Games Maker" for London 2012, which I have done.

    Although I do not live in Vancouver, I live relatively (by Canadian standards) close to Vancouver - 90 minutes by public transit, plus 90 minutes by ferry, plus another 90 minutes by public transit, that I could get-up in the morning, in my home, travel, and be at work for a 1 PM to 10 PM (or 3 PM to midnight) shift. After work, it was 30 minutes on public transit, to stay with a friend in Vancouver. My volunteering schedule was a bunch of consecutive days of work, then a few days off, and repeat. So, I was able to return home during those "off" days.

    Obviously, I'd like some "off" days while in London, because I've never been there.

    Now, the HARD part -- I need to find some accomodation for London 2012,
    i.e., a bed to sleep in, and some breakfast. Volunteers received a full, hot, meal, in the middle of their 8-hour shift, and I purchased my after-work meal at one of many restaurants near the venue where I worked.

    So, is anybody willing to offer a room for the duration of the Olympics (not the Paralympics) to me, a 58-year-old computer programmer from Canada?

    I have excellent skills on fixing & updating PC computers, both hardware & software, if that helps.

    Or, does anybody know a way to get in contact with other volunteers, who might accomodate me? Of course, I am NOT asking for "free" accomodation. I think that "sharing" Olympic experiences with another volunteer would be pleasant.

    If you have an eBay ID, you can contact me by sending an eBay message to the 'melvin_klassen' ID.

  • Comment number 14.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    I've put my name down to be a "Games-Maker" - mainly because I worked on the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, on secondment from the Army, then as one of the 47,000 Volunteers for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Don't know that they'll accept a 'dinosaur', but it should be all ages, all walks of life, from all over the world. I'm happy to pay my own plane fares
    over & back, but the accommodation question is one I'll have to work out. However, knowing the British public from my many past visits, I'm sure something will be worked out. I certainly do not expect free accommodation, but, if you're a volunteer, start saving now - you've got almost 2 years to save the cash.

  • Comment number 17.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 18.

    VANOC had been thinking about people who might Volunteer from other parts of the world and asked local people to open up their homes for these Volunteers and many did and for free. VANOC also had a Greek Ship parked in Squamish for Volunteers working in Whistler. Be nice if Volunteers living in London who have space for one or two, open up their homes as well as Familys or anyone who might be willing to put up a volunteer. I myself will be Volunteering and so far, looking to stay at the Victory Services Club, being ex Canadian Forces but it would be even better to stay with someone

  • Comment number 19.

    How about we have a house pooling and also car pooling, this will help to share the costs. I live in sevenoaks, and I live in a 2 bed room apartment, I am more than happy to offer accomodation if someone is interested.

  • Comment number 20.

    can some one please helpe me how to registry for Game maker and what is the required skills for same, this will be my first experience of lifetime.


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