Sector 'faces Olympic exclusion'

Anita Pati

The grass-roots voluntary and community sector is in danger of being excluded from the 2012 Olympic Games becaus of a lack of funding and co-ordination, the London Civic Forum has warned.

Miriam Haywood, co-ordinator of the forum's 2012 project, said it would apply to run the £35m Millennium Commission Olympic Trust (Third Sector, 19 April), but it was still unclear where smaller individual groups would find funding that would allow them to contribute. "If there's not appropriate support, smaller and excluded groups will not be able to engage," she said.

Haywood's warning follows Prime Minister Tony Blair's address to Londoners at City Hall earlier this month, when he invited "every London community organisation and voluntary group to consider what ambitions they might set themselves for 2012".

The London Civic Forum, which has more than 1,200 organisational members, has issued a call to arms in a bid to galvanise the capital's groups into action and help ensure the sector's involvement.

The 2012 project, run with the London Voluntary Service Council and the East London Council for Voluntary Service Network and funded through ChangeUp, is holding two events in May.

The first is a risk assessment focus group on 11 May that will identify potential Olympic roles and challenges for the sector.

These roles could involve translation and interpreting, pastoral care, brokering small grants for larger organisations, volunteering and championing an ethical games.

On 23 May, there will be a brainstorming session to forge a clear identity and name for the project. The results of both sessions will feed into a manifesto to be published in coming months.

Haywood said that the games should create a legacy for the communities involved in their delivery.

"Our project is about making voluntary groups aware of the opportunities that will come to them and getting them fit for purpose so they're ready for it when it comes," she said.

MAIN POINTS

A lack of funding and co-ordination threatens the voluntary and community sector's inclusion in the 2012 Olympics

Two events are being held in May to discuss the potential for civic participation in the games

Voluntary groups need to be aware of the opportunities presented by the 2012 Olympics.

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