The volunteers are 70000 reasons why these Games are great – and they are changing Britain for the better
Posted on 9 August 2012 | 10:08pm
Just back from another fabulous day in and around the Olympic Park. To any of you who have missed my blog musings in recent days, apologies, but I have been loving every minute of every day just absorbing and enjoying as much sport as I can.
But it is less about the sport than the cultural impact (hopefully) of these Games – and in particular the thousands of Games Makers- that I want to focus on in this little pre-bed blog.
I have exited hundreds of stadia in my time, mainly football, but also rugby, cricket, tennis, boxing, athletics, many more sports. And the atmosphere coming out of the Olympic Park in these last few days is like no atmosphere I have ever experienced before.
The first thing you notice is how clean everything is. Cans, bottles, litter – they seem to be in bins, not chucked to the ground.
There are also fewer police officers than you usually see leaving a big event. Tonight a group of police officers were singing Happy Birthday to a volunteer.
The volunteers are the key to all this. They are everywhere. And they are nice. And they are just having a good time helping others to have a good time.
I find it hard to imagine coming out of a football ground to see a young British Muslim woman in a headscarf, megaphone in hand, singing ‘if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.’ But it happened tonight and people clapped along.
There is such a positivity to these Games that comes from so many different things: the scale of the project and the fact Britain pulled it off; the superb venues and the smoothness of the movement of big crowds through them; the transport system working well; the amazing performance of the British athletes, and our position at the top end of the medals table, well above countries that like to look down on us; the weather; the fabulous opening ceremony; the phenomenal support the British public are giving at every single venue.
But right up there is the role of the Games Makers: Mr and Mrs Britain. These are the real Middle Englanders, and they are the antithesis of the negativity of those newspapers which claim to be the voice of the British people.
The Games are good. And the men and women in their Games Maker outfits are 70000 of the reasons why. They have shown not just the desire to volunteer in our country; but the capacity that volunteering has to deliver organisational and cultural change.