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Charity highlights benefits of volunteering at the 2012 Games
The 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games offer employers a unique opportunity for encouraging their staff to volunteer and get involved in supporting sports and events in their communities, the charity Volunteering England has said.
Justin Davis Smith, chief executive of Volunteering England, said: "I would urge employers to get involved in the 2012 Games by supporting their staff in volunteering. It’ll be a huge, one-off national celebration, and hundreds of thousands of people want to get involved and give some time to making it an amazing success for our country.
"For employers, the benefits of supporting employees to volunteer far exceed it simply being a 'good thing to do'. There is a strong business case. Volunteering can provide a means for employees to develop their skills and enhance their motivation, and this can be particularly valuable when the economic environment can be depressing for some people. Volunteering also offers a demonstrable way for the organisation to reach out and connect with communities around the workplace, and to meet corporate social responsibility objectives."
Associated with the 2012 Games, there is a range of volunteering opportunities:
* For a role in running the Games, working in the venues, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has created the 'Games Maker' programme, which asks for a commitment of 10 days of Games-time volunteering, together with three days of training. Applications are scheduled to close on 27 October.
* For welcoming visitors around the period of the Games, the cities where the Games venues are located – the Host Cities – are setting up their own volunteering programmes. In London, the Mayor Boris Johnson has organised the London Ambassadors programme, where groups of volunteers will be located in tourist hotspots around the capital to offer advice, guidance and some local knowledge.
* For a huge variety of other celebrations and community events, Volunteering England says employers can scan what’s going on in their local communities or support employees in developing new activities. The events needing volunteers to make them happen include school sports competitions, cultural shows and street parties, as well team-efforts to improve the local environment and welcome visitors from other countries.
Many employers are already involved in employer-supported volunteering (ESV). Volunteering England says statistics from 2007 show that 36% of employees in England worked for an employer who offered an ESV scheme, with the Olympic and Paralympic Games offering scope to further increase this figure.
Employers currently engaged in ESV vary in their approach ranging from ad hoc activities to a formal scheme embedded in working culture with paid time off to volunteer and links into staff professional development.
Many employers are working out the process for supporting volunteers during the 2012 Games. Some are offering between two and five days as volunteering leave so long as staff at least match that with days of volunteering out of their annual leave. Others are discussing how volunteering attached to the 2012 Games can be prioritised in work schedules over that summer or made possible by flexible working hours.
Volunteering England is urging those employers new to ESV to get started now. The organisation says there are a wealth of ESV activities that employees can engage in ranging from team challenge activities including conservation and DIY tasks through to skills-based activities including workshops, coaching and mentoring.
For more information on volunteering and the 2012 Games, visit the Volunteering England website:
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