By Katelynn Thys | BSU at the Games
The Olympic Games came to London for the first time since 1948 – the exact same amount of time since volunteers began helping at the events.
For this year’s Games, the London Organizing Committee of Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) had 70,000 volunteers around the city and United Kingdom.
Jean Tomlinson, director of human resources for LOCOG, said the group started spreading the word they would need volunteers’ years ago and had people and organizations register before the recruitment campaign even launched. In 2010, it officially launched the program as an extensive education campaign, but also spread the word through volunteer organizations and LOCOG’s national and regional programs. The committee also teamed with McDonalds as a presenting partner for the London 2012 Games Maker Program.
“This is the first time an Olympic organizing committee has turned to a commercial sponsor to be involved in the volunteer program,” Marita Upenience said, the Olympic Games communications officer for McDonald’s.
McDonalds also spread the word about volunteering through flyers and ads in it 1,200 UK restaurants. After spreading the word for the need of people, the program received 240,000 applications. With this abundance of applications, the committee set up nine volunteer centers around the UK. McDonalds helped support the 2,500 volunteers that conducted the interviewees. Over 14 months, McDonald’s supported 2,500 volunteers who conducted the interviews in search of finding the best candidates to be the faces of the games – The Games Makers’.
“They asked a lot about what experience I had. I help manage the County’s Fencing Competition, which is like a mini Olympics since there are competitors from all over,” Hannah Chenneour-Cocking said. “The volunteering process was long and you had to have extra knowledge about sports to do the best job.”
Chenneour-Cocking was nearly pushed out the door she said during her thirty-minute interview because she spoke so much about her passion and excitement to be a part of the Games.
“It’s just an amazing opportunity, I am so excited,” she said about finding out she was a Game Ability Team member, which assists visitors with extras needs around Olympic Park and helps visitors their accommodations. “I can’t wait to be a part of the faces of the games.”
After the interview process volunteers went through an orientation training to give them an overview of the Games. This was followed by role-specific training to provide them with more detail about the individual duties they had. Finally, they went through venue-specific training, where they learned more about the site they would be volunteering for and meet the rest of their team.
“We helped plan and design the training the volunteers have been receiving over these past months, including welcoming 12,000 of them to our training centre in London for Event Leadership training. By the time the volunteers reach Games time, collectively they will have undertaken 1.2 million hours of training,” Upenience said.
Throughout the Games, all volunteers, no matter where they are stationed, are notified regularly on who won what events and what is going on around the city. Each volunteer is also be armed with packets of information so they can accommodate as many people as possible. The volunteers have also been easy to spot thanks to their wardrobe: a bright pink and purple uniform, which consists of a polo or sweater and cap.
“Well, quite simply, the Games wouldn’t happen without our volunteers,” Tomlinson said. “They are absolutely key to helping us put on successful Games and we know that good volunteers make the difference between a good and a great Games. We’re absolutely thrilled with the response we’ve had to the program and the volunteers we’ve selected. Whenever we have the opportunity to meet some of our volunteers, we’re always so humbled by their dedication and passion. I know they will do us proud this summer.”
Katelynn Thys is a junior telecommunications and journalism major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Katelynn and the BSU team at @skyismylimit_kt, @bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.