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Notes from the Chair: 20th August

I’ve now returned to my desk after two weeks as a Games Maker, working on the Olympic Park as part of the press operations team. The experience was both very fulfilling and fascinating, and provided a very personal opportunity to reflect on the role of volunteers in our sector. We often worry about the division between paid and volunteer, professional and amateur: my Games Maker experience really challenged these divisions and prompted a couple of thoughts.

The 70,000 people who volunteered were all willing to give up some holiday, or opportunity to earn money working elsewhere, and to give our time and skills freely. We weren’t replacing paid staff, of which there were many (all working very hard), but giving the Games organisers flexibility and a resource that has been widely recognised as key part of the success of the games. That capacity to lift events and activities through voluntary support is not new: where I work in rural Cambridgeshire, many local events are dependent on volunteer support, sometimes with little paid input. Paid staff and volunteers provide complementary skills, with volunteers often providing the added extra, not affordable on tight budgets, that sometimes means the difference between going ahead and not, or between a good event and a truly memorable one. Because that volunteer effort might only be visible for a few days a year, it hasn’t always had the same recognition as more traditional voluntary roles in health and social care.

 I went away from the Games realising once again how important that volunteer effort is, and I hope that the remarkable example of London 2012 Games Makers can raise the profile and importance of cultural volunteering, with more recognition for the hard working volunteers already active in our sector, and encouraging more people to get involved in supporting events and activities at every scale.
Jane Wilson
Chair of AD:uk
Tel: 01353 669022 Email: jane.wilson@adec.org.uk