Diary of a Games volunteer - McDonald's this time
According to Private Eye I'm not allowed to write this. They claim that LOCOG has "banned volunteers working at the Games from making Facebook posts", and since this is going to be reposted on Facebook maybe I am in danger of disciplinary action. (What form could that take, I wonder?)
On Friday I got a chance to check what the rules were at my latest training session, and the truth was both realistic and unsensational. Of course they can't stop us from chatting online about the Games and our roles in it, but we are asked not to reveal operational details. That sounds like normal business practice to me, especially in an area where security is important.
What LOCOG is getting heavy about is brand protection, and volunteers (aka Games Makers) have been asked to be sensitive to the branding issues. You have probably heard that the O2 will be renamed the North Greenwich Arena for the Games. All traces of its owner's branding will be removed so as not to undermine BT which is an "Official Olympic Partner". I really can't get too bothered about this; after all, commercial sponsorship is essential.
And that is why I found myself at McDonald's University in East Finchley last Friday.
It is easy to scoff at McDonald's (though that would definitely attract the brand police). However it does have an excellent reputation for its staff training programmes, which was why it was chosen as the training provider for Games volunteers.
But "University"? Surely the definition of a University is a chartered institution that is empowered to offer its own degrees. It turns out that the training centre does offer foundation degrees accredited by Manchester Metropolitan University, and the courses are free to staff. That is to be applauded, but, as a former FE lecturer who taught on foundation degree courses, I just feel that McDonald's credibility in work-based training would be enhanced if it made slightly more modest claims.
Anyway, I was there for half a day of training with fellow Events Services Team Leaders. Now I had imagined that most of the Games volunteers would live in London, so I was pretty surprised at the number of fellow volunteers who had travelled, at their own expense, from Scotland, Northern Ireland, Cumbria, the West Country and other parts of the UK to attend the training.
I also learnt that many of the LOCOG paid employees are Games veterans, having worked at previous summer and winter Olympics and Paralympics. It was quite reassuring to know that not everything was being invented from scratch!
The training was well-designed, varied and useful - and this time I did get some chocolate, provided by the Official Snack Provider of the Games.