Everyone is in agreement that the London 2012 Gamesmakers are doing a sensational job. They are a fantastic tribute, to themselves; to the British and non-British people who live in this country; to the spirit of volunteering and to the Olympics itself.
To set the context for this blog, I have been managing Olympic programmes for 4 years and am not an unbiased bystander to this whole thing:
- I am currently managing the Waltham Forest Welcome, the Olympic volunteering programme for the Waltham Forest, one of the host Boroughs
- Kaizen delivered all the training for the Hackney hosts, and the core and team leader training of the Hackney Olympic Volunteers
- We also delivered another large Olympic training programme, for 3 years.
- I have been a member of the LOCOG Changing Places Programme Board for the past 3 years.
Modern Olympics are dependant on volunteers to be their life-blood; and the volunteers are consistently excellent role models and hosts.
If we apply the core Olympic principals to ourselves as Gamesmakers, then this role involves not only being the best that we can be, but also building on the achievements of the fantastic volunteers in past Olympic Games. It is this second aspect that is interesting me right now as it feels like we are absolutely nailing the first aspect.
I think we can lift the bar on Olympic volunteering. So what could this look like? I would love to sit down with some other Gamesmakers and see what could be possible/what we want to be possible
There are somewhere over 100,000 primary volunteer Gamesmakers, and probably an equal number of secondary volunteer Gamesmakers.
Let me clarify what I see to be the difference:
- The primary volunteers are all the Gamesmakers, whether LOCOG, London Ambassadors, Local Borough Volunteers, Ceremony Volunteers, transport volunteers, police volunteers, volunteers associated to other 3rd sector organisations (eg religious institutions, school staff, business volunteers; and others who work directly on the Games in one way or another.
- The secondary volunteer Gamesmakers, are the husbands, wives, partners, children, parents, friends, employers and colleagues who are enabling the primary volunteers to do what they are doing. They are the invisible Gamesmakers but no less important for that. You can’t have 100,000 of the primaries without perhaps several times the number of secondary. While the primary volunteers get all the glory and thanks, I do think it is very important that we don’t forget all the people who enable and support them.
I have heard that this is the largest civil mobilisation of volunteers since WW2. That’s an amazing thing, and it ought to be surely possible for us to find ways to harness that energy and network post September 12th.
There may well be succession/legacy plans in place for the Gamesmakers, but I haven’t seen or heard of any. If there are not plans then now is the time to at least start the conversation – so we can transition post Games.
I think it is our responsibility as Gamesmakers to take ownership and lead the process. I am certain that we have the knowledge, skills and experience within our body to do this.
So what could this look like? I have a few thoughts but would be interested to be part of a wider group of Gamesmakers to chew this over and see what comes out. Here are 2 ideas, one immediate one longer term:
- Gamesmakers could start and manage a campaign to collect donations of Olympic pin badges to raise money for charity (or to establish the organisation I mention below). The badges could then be auctioned. 100,000 Gamesmakers could surely collect 200,000 of them (and probably way, way more). What if spectators could show their appreciation for the Gamesmakers by donating a pin badge to our campaign. Imagine how many badges that could bring in. If they auctioned for an average of £10 that could raise millions.
- London 2012 Gamesmakers could establish an International Gamesmaker Federation, to include volunteers from all past and future Olympic Games. We could co-initiate a global day of volunteering to involve Gamesmakers from across the world.
These are 2 ideas, I am sure that many, many more will come if we ask ourselves the question, what can we do to raise the bar?
If we can carry forward the Gamesmaker energy and passion into a post Games process then we would genuinely have created an extraordinary legacy for the UK and opened up a new dimension for Olympic volunteering. This is the very first Games with widespread social media activity. We have opportunities to mobilise and connect that have never been there before.
This is the Olympics, and for most of us we will never have this chance again. Lets squeeze every drop of benefit and magic that we can from it, and embody all aspects of the Olympic ideals.