Volunteering: Free Opportunities or Community Work

Volunteering has been a very big part of my life and it has given me a sense of purpose and been very positive to mental wellbeing. I have volunteered in a variety of different roles. I am a Science Museum ambassador, a sports event service worker and a political canvasser. Recently I have decided to stop volunteering at big sports events. The reason for this is because they have given me little opportunities for some of my sports activism work.

Volunteering involves working for a cause that involves giving up your spare time and expecting nothing in return but just putting value into something worthy and priceless. It’s basically a community work that you get involved in for fun rather than for a labour of love. It’s great to do this for the benefit of improving the livelihood of a community and to make a happy and better place or organisation. But I am not interested purely in community work. I am not that kind of volunteer.

Broadly speaking there are two types of volunteer workers. One are those who are looking to get involved for the passion of being part of a bright and friendly workforce and sharing in the moment of a glorious event like the Olympic Games or the Commonwealth Games. Not Me. The type of volunteer that I am is an opportunity seeker looking for something to do that can better himself and invest in the sport that I play. Something that suits me because of the ambitious objectives that I have with archery and the Commonwealth.

Volunteering came as a useful way of me to feel valued and appreciated by the community. I’ve grown up spending most of my life on the welfare handouts because of a messy CV and a life of unfair rejection. I needed it to keep myself active and beat the depressive states of moods that I was having from being unemployed. But as I continued to do it I started to look creatively at ways in which I could use it to gain employment or entrepreneurial ideas.

I became a volunteer at the Science Museum in London in 2013. I am a visitor experience ambassador, responsible for giving tours in the galleries, communicating with the public and playing a part in the mission of the museum to make science publicly available. I have really enjoyed this role and I have found a lot of ways in which I can engage with the public and share my passion for science. In this role I have met some famous people from science and got to see some of the most majestic pieces that have been brought to the museum. I have also had the privilege of meeting some famous science people like astronauts, scientists and relatives of historical characters.

I very nearly became a volunteer at the London 2012 Olympics, if it weren’t for an admin error on my application then I could have gotten an interview. Instead I found myself looking for something within it to follow the mission of the Games. Sebastian Coe said that the mission of these Olympic Games was to ‘Inspire a Generation’. I was inspired and I found a new purpose in life with a new sport and to make something good about it for the sake of Britain and the Commonwealth.

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I took up archery and I aspired to become some kind of sportsman. I loved every aspect of archery and I became a big archery geek and started to look for ways in which I could do more than just play with a bow and arrow. That opportunity came when I started volunteering for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Archery wasn’t played as a sport at the Glasgow Games and I believed that archery had some significance to the Commonwealth itself. So I decided to find a way to make it a core Commonwealth sport.

Most sports event volunteers would go straight back to work after they’ve done their bit. Just move on and find another volunteer work in their local area and do it for fun. Most of the people who I met at Glasgow CWG had later found other things to do with their spare time to keep themselves active away from their regular jobs. I was more keen to find something ambitious to do with my time. To make archery popular and more central to the Commonwealth Games I started looking at ways to sell it. This would become my long term volunteering activity and what was going to follow it was a new activity that defined the kind of sports volunteer that I was to become. That was networking.

To make archery a core sport in the Commonwealth Games I had to find certain people to get me in touch with decision makers who could make my objective achievable. To find those people I had to seek them through connections that could influence the decisions makers. In this case the President and the Executive Board of the Commonwealth Games Federation. I found my connections by going into another of my interests which would make up the most of my volunteering work and lead to me becoming a political and civil activist.

I had been a long time supporter of the Conservative Party and it’s philosophy. I was a closet politics fan then and I decided now it was time to start being more active and outgoing in my political ideas. So I went to my local Conservative society in Romford and began canvassing, delivering and participating in debates and events. From here I learnt how to hone my skills of networking and talking to people in charge of decisions.

I felt that I would make a much greater impact if I made my campaigning for core commonwealth archery and the Olympic Legacy if I networked with people in politics and business. That I way I could influence the significance of sports as a national issue rather than just a sports organisation that needed an objective. My Commonwealth archery campaign is more like an enterprise with a social objective.

Recently I have decided to stop going to sports events as a volunteer worker and instead spend my time networking with people who run the sports organisations instead. From the time that I have been working as a sports volunteer at the venues I have found that I have little time and freedom to talk to the officials and the committee members of the sports. The times that I have spent volunteering at these places are too far, too expensive and take up quite a lot of valuable time. Besides I feel that I get more appreciation for my voluntary work in politics, sports and civil activism.

There are some other reasons for me to not volunteer at sports events anymore. My political associations have affected my application to these games. I agree with the idea that politics should stay out of sports because it ruins the nature of the games. By associating myself with the Tories I have become ostracized by the sports volunteering community because they don’t like having political activists of any party pushing an agenda within their games. Besides I’ve seen that many of these volunteers in these events are closet leftist, liberal and Labour supporters.

I do have some criticism of the sports events volunteers as well. Some of the uniforms they give us are either camp or out of tune with the event. The worst volunteer uniform I’ve ever worn is the European Championships 2018 uniform. It was purple and white with pink accents. I looked more like a promo boy for a woman’s hygiene brand not a sports event! My best sports event uniform is the Glasgow 2014 CWG Clyde Sider uniform. I’ve still kept it in my treasure chest of good memories.

One comment

  1. One thing I will add to this is the cost of working for a sports event as a volunteer as well. First there is the accommodation that can come to £140 – £200 a week depending on the location like a hostel. Then there is the cost of travel to the host city and the venues that can come to £70 – £120. You’ve also got to think of the living expenses that can amount to £20 – £40 a day. On top of that is the accommodation basics like bedding and kitchen gear. So you have to save a lot of money just to gear up for it. The total for my Eurochamps adventure amounted to £600 for a 10 day stay in Glasgow. So I would suggest you choose your voluntourism adventure wisely!

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