London

London 2012 'sparks revolution in voluntary sector'

  • 15 March 2011
  • From the section London
Image caption About 250,000 people have applied for the 70,000 volunteer roles

With the tickets now on sale, one of the next big landmarks in the run-up to London 2012, will be the selection of Olympic volunteers in October.

Student Ruth Faulkner - who has applied to be a games maker for London 2012 and a London ambassador during the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games - says there is a boom in volunteering:

"To be a part of something is the core reason for volunteering.

The Olympics has always been seen as the pinnacle of sporting success.

But the 2012 London Olympics also represent an opportunity to reach the pinnacle of volunteering excellence.

Every seasoned volunteer aspires towards such a placement, while inexperienced hopefuls feel enthused and encouraged to get involved with this ultimate goal in mind.

The volunteering sector is undergoing a revolution not to be overlooked, and it is largely thanks to Olympic opportunities such as the Games Makers and the mayor of London's London Ambassadors.

As the volunteering officer at Queen Mary, University of London, I have seen this revolution first hand.

Students who would never have considered volunteering last year are now taking up the baton, taking the initiative to approach us for opportunities.

The chance of volunteering at the Olympics has inspired them.

The Olympics denotes excellence, pride and hard work, and everyone of any age wants to feel part of it.

The 1948 London Olympics came at a time when the public needed picking up and the 2012 Olympics are bringing the country back to life in the same way.

Overlooked and disheartened

The numbers say it all, with 250,000 volunteers applying for the coveted 70,000 roles.

Sebastian Coe's enthusiasm has rubbed off on all volunteers, but the younger generation has been especially enthused.

Coe's assertion that he wants "the best of the best" is really just a challenge for today's students, who may have felt overlooked, under-appreciated and disheartened by the current dismal outlook for graduates.

With jobs becoming increasingly competitive, volunteering is now being offered as the answer.

In the same way as it is for athletes, for younger volunteers being involved the Olympics is a high profile way to show their worth.

It is something to aim for and look back on with pride saying, 'I was there because I was chosen'.

And the great thing about volunteering?

Once you start you're usually hooked. All volunteers gain a great sense of involvement from their work, be it in their community or within a particular organisation.

To feel part of something - being needed, responsible, relied upon is uplifting, and is the core reason for returning volunteers.

I expect that volunteers who have been inspired by the Olympics will continue to volunteer long after they finish, galvanising the volunteering industry.

At this crucial juncture the role of the Olympic volunteer is just beginning - and the excitement and enthusiasm will only grow."

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