Games Makers: What is the Olympic Legacy for BME Volunteers?

Almost a year has passed since the Olympic games. Nearly a whole year since Jess EnnisMo Farrah,  and Laura Trott won Gold Medals. But perhaps most importantly, this. By Samantha Reeve, Policy Officer, Voice4Change England

Not just a woman armed with a loudhailer - there is no denying that the 70,000 volunteers turning out to make the games happen, many of whom from BME backgrounds were the ‘Games Makers’ at the heart of the Olympic’s success.

Not only did BME volunteers come out in their thousands to make the games happen, from some of the most diverse boroughs of London, but the Taking Part report found that BME respondents were significantly more likely to be motivated by the Olympics to volunteer than white respondents.

Every Olympics host country struggles to maintain the legacy of their games however. There is a very real danger that the same will happen with our BME volunteering legacy. Last month the Public Accounts Committee of MPs warned that the volunteering spirit is in danger of ‘fizzling out’.  It would be interesting to compare the Olympic volunteering legacy with volunteering projects that happened outside of the official games makers scheme, for example, what did all those volunteers trained by Newham Monitoring Project go on to do?

The Olympic legacy isn’t the only thing we should be concerned about. At the beginning of the recession it was suggested that volunteering levels would increase. However what we have seen is the opposite: over a quarter or charities reported that they had insufficient numbers of volunteers in the past year, and we know now that people out of work are less likely to volunteer than those in work.  Only last week Interns Aware and Unite published this article highlighting charities’ use of the National Minimum Wage exemption in the third sector to avoid paying interns.


Photo: Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels