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Wanted: volunteers for the Olympics

Applications to volunteer at the London 2012 Olympics open on September 15. Have you got what it takes?

di Olivia McConhay

Have you got what it takes? With this catchy slogan London hopes to recruit 80 thousand volunteers for the 2012 Games. At the end of July London mayor Boris Johnson and Lord Sebastian Coe, chair of the London Games organizing committee, launched the programme that includes a scheme called the London Ambassadors, which is aimed at training 8 thousand volunteers to help show visitors around the city. “We want our volunteers to be the smiling, happy, proud face of London”, said the mayor.

But the London Olympics are still two years away and there’s no time like the present to start getting involved. The UK’s leading volunteering social network, i-Volunteer, has come up with seven ways to start getting involved and gain experience that might just give you the edge over other applicants.

1. A sporting chance

Every sport in this country relies on volunteers. From coaching to driving minibuses to stewarding events, without volunteers stuff just doesn’t happen. So if you’re excited by the Olympics, why not choose an Olympic sport and find out how you can help. Sport England has lots of useful links, or you could just check locally for clubs.

Remember, you don’t need to be able to play the sport to help out as a volunteer. And if you can’t find an Olympic sport that needs help, try one that’s not part of the Games. You’ll still be helping out, and getting some useful experience on your volunteering CV

2. London calling

If the capital city that inspires you rather than sport you can also find lots of volunteering options. The obvious starting point is your local Volunteer Centre – they’ll be able to tell you what’s available in your local area. Or just spend some time searching online. Roles are as varied as London itself, from volunteering at the British Museum to being a Special Constable with the Met or helping out with arts projects in Lambeth.

3. Go local

You might want to think about your little corner of London. Are there organisations in your neighbourhood that need help? Try searching with your postcode – you might be surprised at how many voluntary organisations there are right up your street.

4. Meeting and greeting

Perhaps it’s the idea of the ambassadorial role that appeals to you, making newcomers to the city feel welcome. If so, then look for roles that need the personal touch. For example, Home Start involves volunteers to support parents who, for a variety of reasons, are struggling to cope.

5. Use the skills you have

If you apply to volunteer for the Olympics they’re likely to ask about what skills you have. These might be specific skills that you’ve gained through work, or more general life skills. If you make a list now, you’ll be ready for the application process when it opens. Meanwhile, you can look for other organisations looking for what you have to offer.

6. Try something completely different

Volunteering can also be a chance to branch out. If your paid work is office-based, you might want to volunteer outdoors. If it’s very cerebral, you might want something where the emphasis is more on the social side. Trying something different could also help with your Olympic application, showing that you’re flexible and open to new volunteering experiences.

7. Embrace the Olympic spirit

The Olympics aren’t just about competition, they’re also about taking part.

So is volunteering.

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