A Blog Post by Nigel Royle – UWS Careers Adviser
The events have been staged, medals awarded, and the celebrations are over but memories of the Glasgow commonwealth games this summer live on in the volunteers minds as we reflect on those eleven amazing days. The volunteers of Glasgow 2014 can proudly say that WE WERE THERE.
From the time the games were awarded to Glasgow, UWS staff and students took an active interest in supporting the games for example through the student led LEAD 2014 programme involving students and school pupils from all over Scotland, a two year staff secondment to the Games organising committee, and significant academic research around major sporting games.
From several UWS students’ perspective, their involvement in the pre-games volunteer programme was transformative. UWS students Royce Thomas and Taylor Sexton had similar games journeys both starting as “Frontrunner” volunteers leading up to the games meaning they were in prime position to gain full time paid roles when they came up. They both played key roles in the volunteer management during the games themselves.
Taylor describes how “Confidence was a big thing for me….. the support was incredible… My confidence has increased significantly and it shows when you put your mind to something and want to achieve you can!”
Similarly, Christine McKelvie, an HR student, was a volunteer interviewer and gained experience directly relevant to her studies and no doubt helpful to her future career plans.
The volunteer workforce roles varied from people working with the press, sports officials, results technology, team liaison, ceremonies cast and city hosts to name a few. The workforce represented a microcosm of the labour market where students as volunteers could develop a whole range of skills to enhance their employability.
As the games drew closer more students and staff were selected for their games time volunteer roles. Some, such as those selected for the Host Broadcaster training initiative gained skills directly relevant to their studies in television production and live sports broadcasting. Attending events and seeing some of these trainees sitting at mixing desks or directing boom mics you would have thought they were seasoned professionals. This experience will add weight to their future job applications. Others like Chris Gentles, a Business Technology student were selected as volunteer team leaders and were able to develop their leadership and organisation skills.
As a spectator services volunteers my role was known as the face of the games. Our friendly smiles and lively banter kept the crowds in buoyant mood as they queued on their way into Hampden Park or climbed the steep hill from the bus stops up towards Cathkin Braes Mountain bike park. Our training was focussed on customer service with an emphasis on equality and diversity. My motivation for this role was to welcome people to Glasgow and just to be part of an amazing event. Watching Alistair Brownlee romp home in the Triathlon and seeing Jo Pavey and Eilidh Child take their silver medals were stand out moments for me but so were many of the laughs and fun we had as a team. One of the rewards many people are still talking about is lasting friendships that formed during the games.
The eleven days went by in a whirl of activity. If I wasn’t on shift I was a ticketed spectator at an event or soaking up the atmosphere at Glasgow Green, George Square or at the BBC on Pacific Quay. Everyone I have met who played a part in making the games happen seems to have a similar story. Chris Gentles echoes the sentiments of many:
“I am able to look back on those two weeks of my life as two of the most enjoyable/challenging weeks ever!”
Volunteering has the potential to transform, providing skills and experience and bringing people together towards a common goal, and developing lasting friendships. The Commonwealth Games will not happen again in Glasgow in our lifetimes but the legacy will hopefully mean a generation of us are hooked on the experience of volunteering. In the words of one young spectator writing about the volunteers’ crucial part in the games
Through the volunteers…
“the games full spirit will live on
something a new city will be built upon”