Part of the Great British Garden on the Olympic Park. Copyright the author 2012
The buzz around Gamesmakers has now turned to what volunteering legacy might there be once the Olympic and Paralymic Games have long left the shores of Britain and Stratford in East London has returned to some semblance of normality(poverty, overcrowding and all the usual inner London problems). I have given this considerable thought and indeed I have been thinking about it for some considerable time. That’s because I volunteered well before the Olympics reached Britain.
Clearly politicians have thought about it too. It has become a catalyst in Tory thinking for their Big Society ideas. It is not though a Tory notion and any proposals that are put forward that it is, should be rigorously rejected. Most of the 250,000 original applicants and the lucky selected 70,000 volunteers eventually selected, put themselves forward anything up to 7 years ago is the truth.
But what of the legacy of spontaneous sports volunteering? Can it be harnessed in the future outside the sports arena? I certainly hope so. Many Gamesmakers were already avid volunteers in their favorite sport and many had volunteered in other non-sporting roles like myself.
There were though, still thousands of Gamesmakers that had never before volunteered. So what will they be doing after the Games have left town? I hope they will see this as an opportunity to become involved in the voluntary sector on a regular basis now they have had a flavour of what volunteering can do for one’s self esteem. As Aristotle put it – Eudaimonia or welfare and happiness as it might be translated today.
We can learn much from what the Greeks said about volunteering or civic virtue as they may have expressed it. However, you’ll be pleased that today is not a day for ancient history. If we did we might end up convincing ourselves that volunteers were the modern day equivalent to the slaves in ancient Greece! So best not go there.
Whatever manifests itself in both organized and unorganized format, I trust it’s the voluntary sector that becomes the real benefactor.