London’s Volunteers: What Next?

The fantastic army of volunteers produced during the Olympics, the LOCOG Gamesmakers and Mayor’s London Ambassadors, have been widely mentioned as one of the best potential legacies of the Games. So we were interested in a meeting that happened yesterday at City Hall when Veronica Wadley, the new Senior Advisor for Team London, Volunteering, Charities and Sponsorship, answered questions on just that.

She’s definitely keen on deploying Team London members during large sporting events and at tourist hotspots (when? All the time? Don’t know). But we didn’t find much out else, to be honest. Wadley’s responses tended to be very curt (when Darren Johnson asked her to elaborate on contact she’d had with voluntary organisations during her career, she replied with “I have answered your question”, a phrase that got several outings). In fact, her closed way of answering questions united John Biggs and Tony Arbour in cross-party frustration.

Perhaps the main issue facing the pink and purple clad army is whether to channel them into local volunteering or keep them for London-wide promotion. Wadley agreed that boroughs should be able to access LOCOG information about Gamesmakers. But she also agreed with Andrew Boff when he read out a letter from a London Ambassador, saying that many of them already volunteer locally but leapt at the chance to do something for the entire city. If you were one of this summer’s volunteers, let us know your feelings in the comments.

On a different note, if the name Veronica Wadley rings a bell it’s because she’s the former editor of the Evening Standard – you know, the one who presided over the paper during the period it later felt the need to apologise for. She was also the centre of controversy when Boris intervened to appoint her to Arts Council London, a post she still holds. The Labour Assembly Members clearly haven’t forgiven her for the Standard’s many attacks on Ken Livingstone, starting the meeting questioning whether the articles about Ken’s cronyism aren’t now incredibly hypocritical given her most recent professional appointments relied on Boris. She’d better get something concrete out soon or they’ll be ruthless.

You can watch the session of the GLA Oversight Committee yourself on the GLA website.

Photo by pallab seth from the Londonist Flickr pool

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  • Ian

    There were more volunteers than just the pink-coated traffic controllers. Some of us worked behind the scenes in media centres, for example, but are always ignored. Our jobs were a lot harder than just saying ‘good morning’ and waving our arms around like idiots!

  • http://twitter.com/MissBTakesaWalk MissB

    The Team London volunteers during the Olympics that I came across where doing a lot more than waving arms. Waterloo and Wimbledon were exemplary, patient, kindly, helpful and attentive and always smiling. What a difference this made not only to tourists but London locals as well. Even the permanent staff seemed to take a leaf out of their book, especially at Waterloo. Think its a great idea not sure it’s in the right person’s hands though if the above meeting is anything to go by.

  • http://twitter.com/mobyoctopad sara’aarrgghh

    ah, but there were several different types of “pink coated” volunteers:
    London Ambassadors-i was one of these. worked for mayor of london. geenral advice, directions etc
    Travel ambassadors-mainly tfl/toc office staff deployed to the front line. little training given (but they did have ipads). many admitted not know much about tickets as they never had to buy them!
    Stewards-casual PAID labour (one of told me it was cash in hand!). employed by? absolutely useless. i think they were meant to control crowds (mainly non-existent) outside tube stations.
    Mayor of London has been contacting London Ambassadors to wokr at events such as the NFL match this week and something at St pancras too.

  • annaspan

    I was a Games Maker this summer and loved every minute of it. I’d never done any volunteering before but when the Olympics finished I’ve been looking for more ways to get involved with different kinds of events. I’ve so far done some front-of-house for Dance Umbrella and my local Oxjam event, and I’ve got some things lined up for Macmillan Cancer Support. There really is so much out there but people don’t seem to know where to look. When I’ve spoken to friends and colleagues a lot of them are keen to get involved in some way but don’t seem to know where to start. The thing is, volunteering somewhere is so simple but it needs more publicity.

  • Heather

    Working for a Volunteer Centre, I was disappointed to see that Games Makers didn’t receive details of where they could find out about volunteering in their local communities after the Games. I appreciate that many of them were volunteering already but others were new to it. http://www.do-it.org.uk has voluntary opportunity details from Volunteer Centres sorted by post code. Please take a look!

  • http://twitter.com/WWalks Joanna Moncrieff

    Starting tomorrow morning until 11th November London Ambassadors will be volunteering at St Pancras for a pilot event which will hopefully be extended to other locations. I volunteered at Paddington Station and thought there was a definite need for a permanent presence.