Diary of a Games volunteer - high praise for the Games Makers

"London 2012: Olympics success down to 70,000 volunteers" : The Independent.

With headlines like that Games Makers are rightly proud of what they have achieved, even though many of us have not even started yet!  I will be collecting my uniform and accreditation tomorrow in readiness for the Paralympics. The figure of 70,000 is the total number of Games Makers involved in the Olympics and the Paralympics.

Comments have appeared in most newspapers about the smiling greetings given to spectators by the volunteers in their distinctive purple and red uniforms. But the fact is that most of the volunteers were never seen by the general public, and some of them (such as the torch relay team and the uniform and accreditation teams) were at work well before the Games started.

Those people who greeted you at the station and guided you (with their pink fingers) to the venue were in the Last Mile team. They also managed the crowds leaving venues, with cheerful encouragement from the loud-hailers.

Once you got to the venue the Events Services teams took over. They checked your ticket, directed you to your seat and dealt with any problems. 

Those two groups were the face of the Olympics to spectators, but they only accounted for about 20% of all the Games Makers. 

Some others you will have seen on the field of play. Each sport had its own specialist volunteers who looked after the athletes or supported the disciplines, such as the ball girls and boys at the tennis. Then there were those teams that appeared at each medal ceremony - they were (I think) the only volunteers who wore a different uniform and the only roles that were gender specific. Two women in purple dresses with colourful sashes escorted the athletes, another woman in a strange little purple hat escorted the presenters and three or more men in collarless suits (why, for goodness sake?) carried the medals and flowers. 

But most Games Makers worked behind the scenes, in hundreds of different roles. Volunteers were working on the website, driving athletes and officials, making costumes for the Opening Ceremony, managing the workforce facilities, issuing provisions to the media, looking after visiting and UK politicians, interpreting, working in the athletes' village, and many more functions.

And it's all going to start again in a couple of weeks time with mainly new teams of Games Makers for the Paralympics.


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