Capturing the volunteering legacy of the Olympics

Three things this week have prompted me to write this blog – on Tuesday I was heading to a meeting and as I came out of the boiling hot Tube at Goodge Street I walked past none other than Lord Sebastian Coe, the man who was the Olympics – and almost certainly the only man in London still wearing a jacket and tie and looking unfazed by anything least of all the weather as he headed into the Tube. 

Secondly last night I caught the sound of that music on television – the intro to every Olympic programme on the BBC with clips of the aforementioned Lord Coe telling us how our Gamesmakers made the Olympics, and still felt those goosebumps of pride and excitement. Finally this afternoon I’ve been invited to attend Join In’s volunteering celebration concert at the re-opened Queen Elizabeth Park. Join In is the charity set up to capture the legacy of volunteering from the Olympics.

Now I have often said that we could have captured the legacy better and sooner but when I reflect on my blog this time last year it was all about getting behind the Games and not harping on about what could have been done better – so, time to listen to my own advice and start celebrating just what we have achieved this last year.

At TimeBank at least three of our volunteer mentoring projects have had to close applications for volunteers as they are over-subscribed and there’s very definitely a buzz around the world of volunteering that we haven’t seen since before the Government cuts back in 2011. I also think that we’ve changed the image of volunteering – people no longer perceive it as something that ‘only older people do’ or is restrictive because of the time commitment.

There are so many ways that you can make a difference to your local communities and make change in a positive way. And don’t forget the value to the volunteer themselves, learning new skills, meeting different people, engaging with communities they never normally would. I don’t think that there is any doubt that the Gamesmakers had an impact on the perception of volunteering or the desire of people to volunteer. It’s our job to make sure people then move from wanting to volunteer to actually volunteering and for that they need help and support to get the right role that suits them, their interests and their lifestyle.

So back to this afternoon’s event, of course Seb will be there (I think I can call him that having virtually met him at the Tube) and the Minister for Civil Society and of course Boris, the Mayor of London – I’m envisaging quite a bit of ‘Dad’ dancing to McFly and maybe embarrassed laughter at Eddie Izzard – But one thing I know for sure everyone there will be committed to and striving for an increase in the number of people volunteering, celebrating those who already do as well as remembering  those who made our Olympics.