THE OLYMPICS AND PARALYMPICS – OUR INSIDERS’ VIEWS
Three of the team at Clareville have had a relatively unusual view of the Olympics and Paralympics – from the inside.
We were among the 250,000 who, in autumn 2010, said we would like to help at the events as volunteers.
Now, while the memory is still fresh in the mind, here are a few insights and thoughts about the summer’s events and the way they were organised and run from a different perspective to those you may have read.
What the public and media did not see or easily know
1. Thousands of the Games Makers were not helping the public but working behind the scenes. Volunteers interviewed prospective Games Makers, distributed uniforms and arranged training events. Hundreds organised and managed the moving of staff, athletes and the 25,000 media personnel from village to venue, while hundreds more worked in the Olympic village, at the back of venues or Heathrow as translators, ‘fixers,’ IT staff and medics.
2. That everything at the Olympics was on a vast scale, whether it was press facilities – 1300 desks in the Main Press Centre alone – to the 1250 buses and coaches in use around the Olympic Park and venues and the huge catering facilities – even the force of 70,000 chosen Games Makers.
3. Many volunteers gave up weeks of holiday and spent fortunes of their own money to come from as far as Seattle and Australia to be Games Makers. Others commuted from Staffordshire and Lincolnshire for their shifts
4. That most of the staff did not see any of the events except on TV at home!
What helped to make the events success?
Some very simple and fundamental ideas and decisions made a major difference.
1. The primary emphasis in the interview process was on identifying people who had the right positive attitude towards helping the public – customer service.
2. Where paid LOCOG staff and Games Makers worked together, virtually all LOCOG staff, not matter how senior, wore exactly the same uniform without any obvious difference and ate the same food in the same facilities
3. The title Games Maker rather than volunteer – whoever came up with this phrase added the right positive note to the role.
4. From an early stage and throughout the Games, the managers and team leaders all generally exuded an air of calm and organisation which helped make the roles of the Games Maker comfortable and not pressurised.
5. Good internal communications – daily staff newsletters, staff briefings, handovers – recognition schemes and small edible treats all contributed positively to staff morale and performance.
Despite the press stories about G4S staffing and initial transport difficulties, both the enormous Olympics and Paralympics were well organised and the professional way they were run helped to generate a good spirit among the staff – paid and volunteer – and that shone through.
Any regrets about volunteering?