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Diary of a Games volunteer - why aren't you in the Mall?

I went up to Trafalgar Square to see the Athletes Parade today. Like all the other Games Makers I was asked to wear my uniform for one last time, and as usual complete strangers smiled and chatted with me. The main question they asked was why I wasn't in the Mall with other Games Makers.

I explained that there was a ballot for tickets for the Mall, and only 9000 out of the 70,000 volunteer Games Makers were lucky - I wasn't one of them.

But not all volunteers at the Games were Games Makers - that was the name given to those of us working for Seb Coe. Not personally, of course, but everyone recognises Coe as the Chair of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG).

There was another group of 8000 volunteers who you may have seen at stations and tourist sites around London, wearing magenta and pink uniforms, sometimes with a straw hat. They were London Ambassadors and were working for Boris Johnson.

The Parade was organised by the Mayor of London which explains why all 8000 London Ambassadors were given tickets for the Mall. There had been some 'negotiations' before Gamesmakers were invited.

So while not all volunteers were Games Makers, I think it may surprise people to learn that not all Games Makers were volunteers. LOCOG employees who had been working in Canary Wharf over the last four years also donned the Games Maker uniform when they were deployed to the sports venues for the Games. They were our senior managers and were amazing. They worked even longer hours than us and were all friendly and approachable.

Many of these LOCOG employees will be out of work next week. Some spend their professional lives moving from one Olympic Games to the next, or were planning to work at the Commonwealth Games, FIFA World Cup or other world sporting events, so hope to have new jobs to go to. All Government Departments seconded people for up to four years to work on the Games, which explains why one day I was working for someone who was about to return to their day job at the Department for Work and Pensions.  Others will have to start looking for work in the real world when their contract ends.

Finally, if you went to the Games, you may have noticed some staff wearing the purple Games Maker shirts with black trousers instead of beige. They were employed by one of the contractors as stewards and were not Games Makers as such. They were there to meet the British legal requirements for venues to have trained stewards on site, but many of them seemed pretty miserable. At ExCel I came across several stewards who were great and joined in the party atmosphere, but I also found one fast asleep at his post and others who did as little as they could get away with. The volunteers were not too impressed by them and felt they let the side down, especially as they wore the same shirts so gave the impression to spectators that they were also Games Makers.

 

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