Charities left out of volunteer recruitment for Olympics

London 2012 Olympic Games committee to recruit and manage 70,000 volunteers alone

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games has started to assemble a team of volunteer managers to recruit, train and manage the 70,000 volunteers that will be involved in running the 2012 games.

More than 250,000 people have registered their interest in volunteering at the games through Locog's website since it opened for registrations in 2004. People will be able to apply for placements from next year, when the organisation will run a volunteering campaign.

Locog will be responsible for interviewing the potential volunteers and matching them with placements at more than 130 venues. Volunteering roles are expected to include stewarding and uniform distribution, as well as specialised medical activities.

Some voluntary sector sources are concerned about Locog's plan to recruit and manage the 70,000 volunteers alone. One, who asked not to be named, said Locog had avoided allowing volunteering charities to play a more hands-on role in recruiting volunteers for the games because it did not trust them to meet its deadlines.

Clive Pankhurst, chair of Greater London Volunteering, the umbrella body for volunteer centres in London, said it had been involved in the Personal Best scheme, which encourages low-skilled people to do voluntary work to guarantee them an interview for volunteering placements at the games.

He said recruiting and training 70,000 new volunteers would be difficult for Locog. "Managing volunteers is different from working with paid employees, and can be time-consuming," he said. "I hope the organisation of volunteering at the Olympics is carried out by people who understand what volunteering is about."

A spokeswoman for Locog told Third Sector the process of recruiting volunteers was expected to start next year. She said Locog had already appointed a head of volunteering and was in the process of expanding its team. It was not yet clear how many volunteer managers Locog would recruit, but there would be more details in the next month, she said.

"This will be a hugely complex project on an enormous scale," she said. "Volunteering is an important part of running a successful Games.

Mike Locke, director of public affairs at Volunteering England, said the organisation would advise Locog on working with volunteers so they were satisfied with their placements. 

Kaye Wiggins recommends

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