Volunteering for London

11 months ago (8:21 PM)
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Comments:

jenquill

blan2tc.-Shocking this has closed.
This is what we need. MOL- Boris ,what about it?

chatterbox

Yes it has - but I think it is only due to the fact it appeals to a wider community ie it is welcoming the world. Volunteering is also a choice in something which you have a passion. Not only that, but the Ambassador programme offers good incentives and is well funded. I am not sure if most volunteering projects can afford this. It is an individuals passion which makes it successful.

jonnywright

It is surprisingly difficult to volunteer. Prior to becoming a London Ambassador I tried with both Ealing and Hounslow. A central volunteering database would be useful. I really enjoyed my stint as an Ambassador and want to do more.

Talk London

Thanks jonnywright - clearly there's room for improvement with making people aware. It would be great if you could go into a bit more detail about the difficulties you experienced here, and of course any ideas you have on how to improve things
http://talklondon.london.gov.uk/london-2012/volunteering/discussions/dis...

- Jon
Talk London Community Manager

susiea7

Hi Johnny
It really depends on what you want to volunteer in as some of the volunteer bureaus only have limited roles, or sometimes people are left with the more menial vacancies. If you have specific skills or experience/or any qualifications and still cannot find anything, the Guardian runs a wide range of volunteering in some very nice organisations. I hope this helps you. I must say also, i got volunteer experience from both Hounslow and Ealing.

tethan

Keep the volunteer they help LONDON to be a GREAT in this time forever in/on the street as AMBASADOR of the GREAT CITY OF LONDON .
To help tourists , local to get the BEST OF THIS FANTASTIC MULTI CULTURE CITY.
KEPP THE TEAM LONDON AMABASSADORS

tuppence

I had a great time as an ambassador and being part retired, part self employed had no problem finding the time. Physically though the six day block was pushing it for me.
I was based on the Southbank and a lot of tourists and Londoners were grateful for our help and advice. There were many suggestions that we should be a permanent feature of London.
I would like to see the Ambassador progrmme as a regular feature in London with small teams working in Tourist hot spots. Greater use of pda's could reduce the need for pods and simplify the organisation structure. At a simpler level could we have "May I help" badges to wear as we go about our daily business? The wearers could be authorised, provided with regular computer updates and have twice yearly training.

Talk London

Thanks for sharing your experience, tuppence. It's wonderful to hear that the Ambassadors have been so well received - and by Londoners as well as tourists.

I like the idea of helping in hot spots. An Ambassador has asked the questions "Where can we help next?" so you might like to take a look and join in the discussion there. http://talklondon.london.gov.uk/london-2012/volunteering/discussions/whe...

- Jon
Talk London Community Manager

robin27

People have been very positive towards us pink/purple ambassadors on the streets. Visitors and even Londoners often like help getting orientated to a particular part of London, such as Oxford Circus or Marble Arch, Kensington etc. There are hot spots where volunteer location guides would be really useful throughout the year. With cellphone or equivalent links, working in pairs, and some kind of rota, we could continue to provide a welcome to visitors. It needs some administration, but there must be quite a few volunteers who would be willing and able to do it, if there were some kind of base - either physical or virtual.

susiea7

I totally agree. I was in the airport this morning working and on a few occasssions i was thanked for the work that were doing. I think as time went on people that were not involved bacame more and more curious and wished they had also applied to do it:)

surbiton gal

To the Talk London manager - the catcha is too difficult to read, it took three goes to get here - that is silly. I would like to add to the comments re CRB checks. I have had to have one for elderly people I visited as a volunteer and another for Sunday School just for one hour a week in a room with other adults ! Although this has now been rescinded. However I wanted to do a workshop for a local theatre with teenagers which was a one off and again the check came up. Whilst I can see the importance of proper checks for some situations volunteers are being put off by this. A thought - did everyone working with our young Ambassadors need one ?

Talk London

Hi surbiton gal, thanks for letting me know about the sign up form, I'll pass that on to our tech team.

- Jon
Talk London Community Manager

Mave L

As a Team Ambassador the feedback from visitors during the Olympics has been so positive - our halos are shining brightly - couldn't we continue this programme, or something very similar, during the summer months when we hope that tourist numbers will swell. They certainly should if all the people who have enthused about our city return - as most of them say they will.

Jon1949

This is a crazy idea, but the slogan for the Games is "Inspire a Generation". But where? We have a wonderful new stadium which those of you who are lucky enough have visited, know how brilliant it is.
So while the argument goes on about what happens to it after the games; why do we not turn it into a centre of excellence for youth sport?

What we need is - I know this sounds nuts - 1 million people to give £100.

That gives us £100m to do two things - put a roof on the stadium , and construct an intermediate floor. Provide accommodation within the building, gymnasia, track, and the greatest Sports Academy in the country for the country?

If you believe, as I do that, these games are nation changing please post your support.

.....and if We can, we can get Lord Coe to front it, cos he will have a bit of spare time soon.

philcarey

An important and interesting strand - I, and many of the volunteers I have been working with in Parliament Square, feel strongly that there would be real value in an Ambassador-lite service on a permanent basis. I realise there's the challenge of setting out a convincing business case, but iIn order to best tap volunteers' willingness before it dissipates away, we ought to be putting a proposition to Ambassadors in the next month or two.

One specific thought that occurs to me is the opportunity to link up with the new business model for Time Out: they have announced they will switch in October to free distribution, it seems likely through a specially recruited force, along the lines of Short List and The Stylist. I wonder if we could recoup some of the costs of an ongoing Ambassador force by having, as one of our roles, distribution of the new Time Out - as have already been doing in Games time.

Talk London

Some great points there philcarey - it's good to think about commercial opportunities, as not everything can be free (sadly). How have you found the balance so far between helping people, and distributing Time Out?

- Jon
Talk London Community Manager

Ian Curry

I would love to continue volunteering in a similar role in London after the end of the Olympics and Paralympics. Is there any appetite for continuing an Ambassadors programme in a reduced number of tourist hotspots? Could the pink and purple become a familiar sight on London streets and help to dispel fears that London is an unfriendly or difficult place to visit?

Talk London

Glad to hear it Ian Curry, I think if the other comments in this discussion are anything to go by, there is clearly a healthy appetite from Ambassadors to carry on with their fantastic work!

- Jon
Talk London Community Manager

mauricebennett

The quality of ambassadors has been phenomenal and you could literally carry out a wide variety of tasks, not exclusively geared to sport. As all the volunteers have been CRB checked I presume there would be no problem working with young people; volunteers could organise/supervise cycle events, day trips, etc., help children with learning difficulties, hospital visiting, shopping for elderly people and being available for other public events, where information and directions need to be disseminated.

I feel the whole ambassador programme has been a great success and I would fully support any plan to continue it.

SkinandbonesLONDON

Hi mauricebennett

It does seem like people should be able to use their existing CRB checks, but many organisations require a separate CRB check for each volunteering opportunity!

snoozeactive

Given the number of people who have volunteered during the games who already have considerable skills and who are either fully employed or retired, it would be good to see this embraced by some kind of mentoring scheme, not necessarily just for young people but for anyone looking to obtain further skills and perhaps increase their employability.
The former could be enrolled onto a voluntary scheme - be it organisational, environmental etc. - for which their skillset is particularly suited, and could then also be designated a mentee, someone from the latter category who would contribute to the voluntary scheme in question but would also gain valuable guidance from their designated mentor.
Acting as a mentor can be a particularly enriching experience, so I'm sure there would be plenty of people willing to take part, and at such an economically volatile time as this, this kind of a cost-effective 'training' scheme can only be a good thing.

Talk London

Nice idea snoozeactive - some other comments have talked about gaining skills from volunteering, but I think this is the first to suggest learning from volunteers themselves! It makes sense considering the variety of experiences and backgrounds everyone has.

Working around lots of different schedules might be tricky, how do you think such a scheme could be set up?

- Jon
Talk London Community Manager

snoozeactive

I was thinking more of integrating a mentor scheme into existing or future voluntary schemes, rather than creating a stand alone scheme, though mentees could be recruited specifically on the basis that they will be mentored, perhaps from youth groups, job clubs and the like. Volunteers would enrol much in the same way as with the London Ambassador scheme and, once the required number of people had committed their time and been issued a timetable, mentors and mentees could then be paired up from the confirmed recruits, based on the synchrony of their timetables. I appreciate the difficulty many people have committing their time, particularly when in full-time employment, but as has been mentioned elsewhere in this discussion there are unlikely to be many events requiring anywhere close to the same level of volunteers as the Olympics has. To that extent, if just 1% of the current London Ambassador recruits could commit their time to any given scheme, it would still be a very healthy number and I’m sure more than ample for the majority of voluntary schemes. I also suspect that the ‘feelgood factor’ surrounding the success of the London Ambassador scheme and the Olympics overall will have a positive knock on effect for recruiting brand new volunteers where necessary.

If a London-wide volunteering scheme is to be introduced leading on from the success of the London Ambassadors, it may also be worth considering a tiered recognition system, not leading towards a qualification as such but making it possible to identify (and give recognition for) what each individual could offer to future schemes - what schemes they've been involved in to date, what skills they have aptly displayed whilst on those schemes, and whether their level of ability and experience qualifies them to take on a more involved/senior role in future schemes, such as mentor, supervisor, location manager etc. Such a progression system with incremental 'goals' may also prove a strong incentive for people to continue on a path of volunteering, as well as turn mentees into potential future mentors.

xiphia

We should be contacted by every childrens sports club in the country to volunteer our services.

xiphia

Yes I was very lucky my private healthcare firm gave me 5 paid days annual leave.

Amba

I work for a local authority in a library where we are often asked general questions such as, how to get to, what is on , etc : maybe by joining up libraries and volunteers as information sources we can save libraries and extend that knowledge and willing volunteers into the community, at key visitor sites, special festival/cultural events, future sport events . I have also worked in Tourist Information which has sadly declined over the years and has never really been recognised and valued in comparison to other countries, in my opinion. Promotion overseas is marketed differently to the local and national market . Not everyone has smart phones or internet access so somewhere where you can pick up a local map and actually talk to someone who can point you in the right direction makes all the difference to a visit or day out.
I had to take annual leave to volunteer as a London Ambassador, and although I willingly did so as I was inspired by the idea of actually going out into the streets of London to meet and talk to visitors ( and at the same time met so many like minded and enthusiatic volunteers) I would still like to feel that my time was valued and that I can continue to build on this experience and pass on my enthusiasm and pride for London !

Talk London

Hi Amba, thank's for commenting. Some other Ambassadors have mentioned they would be interested in continuing as a form of guide for tourists at hot spots, do you think that is something you would be interested in? Any ideas on how that might be organised?

- Jon
Talk London Community Manager

chavda

There's a huge difference in volunteering for the Olympics and other volunteering. From my experience so far i can see that there are two very distinct breeds and it does not translate that the majority will be inspired to continue to volunteer in other forms. My opinion is that we should be reselected with those who wish to continue and then devise a programme, where big London events are given to the ambassadors as a priority. After all we are now experienced and practised in the art of ambassadorial duties. Perhaps a change of uniform wouldn't go amiss

Talk London

Hi chavda,
Thanks for sharing your thoughts - yes it might be unrealistic to expect every single Ambassador to continue after the Olympics, but I imagine there will be lots who may have discovered a passion for volunteering as a result.

What has your experience been so far with other Ambassadors? Did you meet any first timers who are going to carry on? It would be great to hear about them.

- Jon
Talk London Community Manager

SkinandbonesLONDON

Definitely time off from work would help. But so would creation of non-traditional volunteering roles, such as using skilled volunteers for short periods of time, volunteering opportunities that a whole family can take part in, volunteering for under 18s that isn't organised by their school, plus remote volunteering.

Another good idea would be to include childcare expenses as well as more traditional expenses, such as travel and lunch/dinner.

Volunteering organisations need to be more flexible in the roles that they offer, because many people would like to give their time, skills etc. but perhaps can only give bite-sized chunks of time.

And finally, the profile of volunteer centres needs to be raised. Many people do not know that they exist, and they have a volunteering matching service at the core of what they do.

Romey

Being a London Ambassador is amazing and the community spirit generated by all is what this country needs. There are plenty of volunteering opportunities in London, I found no problem getting volunteer work as soon as I retired and do 2 days per week. I think companies giving staff a couple of days per year is great, but most of these people have the good work ethic anyway. People not working through apparent lack of jobs should do more volunteering - very good to make people feel 'good about themselves'.

Willemien

I am a London Ambassador and found it lots of fun.

But I was thinking could a unemployed person afford it?

For the training there was no travelmoney, The worldhost badge (good idea for unemployed persons,... not free)

Some unemployed people could not afford this at all.

susiea7

The world of Volunteering has certainly changed. I entered the world of volunteering from my local volunteer bureau. I was just coming out of a family crisis at the time, so it slowly eased me back into the real world, communicating and interacting with others and then gradually given new responsibilities. I worked for 6 months in advice and guidance and heard about the London Ambassadors. Having previously worked in community regeneration/development, i thought, i can do that. It was a chance to put my skills and experience to practice. I was so happy when i heard i had been selected as a London Ambassador and have really enjoyed it. I have been placed at Heathrow Terminal 4 and was asked to come back and do some more shifts, so i jumped at the chance. My uniform still hanging up off i went. Working at Heathrow T4 i had the opportunity to see athletes, officials and tourists arriving and have been able to upsell London, the Olympics and Travel and Tourism at the same time. The feedbacks been great. I also recieved a ticket for the Opening Ceremony Dress Rehearsal, which i thought was a fantastic experience! Follow susiea7 as i have so much more to tell you...in fact i could write a book on my experiences and the people i have met.

susiea7

I think it is important to continue the momentum of the London Ambassador, now that they are recognised visually, and it seems respected, maybe jobs could be created for people wanting to continue in this line of work. I met so many people from all walks of life, all ages etc. It certainly was aproductive way of breaking down those barriers of discrimination, diversity, gender and race. It is a united and presidential way of rolling out a new programme for London and Employment. I lot of the volunteers i met were unemployed and saw this as a way of improving their job prospects. Remember that a lot of people enter into volunteering for a variety of reasons. If there are jobs going i would certainly be interested. Thanks Boris:)

puru

volunteering done in own time is more motivated and commited. Families are breaking down, unmotivated young turn to crime, there is a lack of parenting skills and guidance. Young and old need to know the reposibilities of parenting and be prepared to shoulder them mainly. Do not expect too much from the society or goverment to provide. Persons must ask what I could for my nation/community/society instead of the other way. A sense of pride in whatever one is,wherever one is needs to created from the childhood. This applies to persons at all levels and professions. In short need a change in attitude to look things at within and without. For time being I think this is enough.

Talk London

Hey everyone

Lots of you have raised concerns about CRB checking, and how this can be a pain when volunteering (working with kids in more than one borough for example) and we thought it was important to pass this feedback on to our relevant colleagues at City Hall. The Deputy Mayor for for Education and Culture has assured us that they’re aware of the issue and welcome the government's recent announcements to change the law. Rest assured that they’re watching developments here and will follow suit accordingly. Watch this space.

- Alex
Talk London Community Manager

shyanne

I enjoyed my time voluntering so much I felt a bit deflated when it was all over. London was a very place. I would love to volunteer when possible.

But as mentioned with some sort of point system. who knows I may eve fine an ideal job.

iburajungle

I had great time as team london ambassador volunteer.It was great experience .we enjoyed the work more than those who were paid to do the job.Long live all the volunteers for the olympics they could not have done it without us

philcarey

Jon

Just noticed that you put a question to me all of 3 weeks 3 days ago following up my comment about a possible link-up with Time Out distribution: how did I find the balance between helping people and handing out Time Out? It was not a problem at all for me and my teams: Time Out was (to my surprise) a genuinely useful resource with well-laid out information enabling us to answer a wide range of the more detailed queries. If the publishers can keep up the quality once it goes free then a link-up with them could enable an ongoing Ambassador force to provide a fantastically useful service to visitors to London. (The distribution role would be clearly secondary to our core role as Ambassadors.)

It also strikes me that the business case for continuing the Ambassador force would be helped by giving us a role in collecting feedback (perhaps just through urging visitors to complete a website survey once they get home) on their experience of London and how the visitor experience can be improved. Any successful 'business' should invest some time in market research!

I note that Veronica Wadley will be speaking to managers at our reception this month: it would be great if she could address some of these specific suggestions posted on this Forum on how to make a permanent Ambassador force a viable proposition.

Talk London

Thanks philcarey, great to hear Timeout was useful and worked well with your Ambassador role.

In terms of research I know that Ambassadors have been handing out business cards to visitors asking them to go on line when they get home to give the GLA some feedback on their experiences of visiting London during the Games. As well as the views of visitors the GLA are keen to know what Ambassadors themselves thought of the programme. They are looking at the discussions taking place here on TALK and will be sending out an online survey to all Ambassadors soon.

Best wishes,

- Jon, Talk London Community Manager

ColinM

I have recently completed my Ambassador shifts at MoreLondon and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of assisting and informing visitors to London. I have read this Talk London dialogue and noted the requests from Alex the Community Manager for suggestions on how to build on the spirit and commitment displayed by the London Ambassadors. I have the benefit of coming along after many others have put their ideas forward and so can piggy-back on them with some additional observations which may help Alex.
My first observation is that Talk London and Alex may be at risk of confusing the notion of volunteering for anything with the specific commitment to volunteering as London Ambassadors. As one of the latter I did so because I am proud of London and wanted to use my knowledge and experience of the city to promote it to visitors. I am disinclined to volunteer generally for anything and would be unhappy if that is a presumption made by City Hall using its’ database of Ambassadors. I suggest that City Hall should be discriminating and not confuse commitment to London Ambassadorial roles with willingness to participate in all other forms of volunteering.
My second observation is that the Ambassadors came from a very wide cross-section of London and the only thing we probably all had in common was a desire to represent London to the best of our abilities. Beyond that common aim our backgrounds and wishes were many and varied; some were taking time off work, some were unemployed, some still in full-time education, some seeking work experience and qualification, some retired. The comments on the Talk London dialogue reflect these differences. I suggest that City Hall recognises the different capabilities and desires of Ambassadors to participate in whatever future plans may be laid.
My third observation is that I find it illuminating that Tourist Information is apparently regarded as unimportant across London by the boroughs and by City Hall. I believe tourism is a major contributor to the economy of both the country and the capital so it is extraordinary that little investment is being made in supporting visitors who have made it to London and in making London a welcoming city. I am aware that much is spent on advertising the city but it seems to me that if we get visitors here we ought to encourage them to enjoy it to the full; after all it is an expensive and sometimes intimidating place to find one’s way around. I suggest that, in the light of these facts, the notion of London Ambassadors providing an ongoing voluntary service is a substantial matter for the Mayor’s consideration in the straitened economic times we face and could provide a unique legacy from the summer like no other; an inspired generation, too, perhaps.
Lastly, Alex asks how this could be organised. Well, first there needs to be agreement that London Ambassadors can fulfil an ongoing need for assistance and information and city promotion to London’s visitors. Second, Ambassadors need to be asked what they would be willing to do; I suggest a simple survey could be sent by email to each of us asking suitable questions. The analysis of that survey will inform future plans. The survey might ask (a) about our willingness or otherwise to participate in non-Ambassador volunteering as well as Ambassadorial; (b) our ability to cover periods of time (e.g. the retired could perhaps do weekdays; those in full-time work might only be able to do weekends or holidays; those who want qualifications and work experience would need specific support); (c) the locations we prefer; (d) the experience or knowledge we can offer. When organising volunteering the key is always about scheduling people to times and duties based upon their availability and the demands for coverage. This is probably a full-time activity and needs to use technology; it is a central City Hall function although it could be supported by volunteers as was the case with the establishment of the London ambassador programme.
It would be a real shame if London is not able to continue the spirit and service which the London Ambassadors (and let’s not forget the Games Makers, too) have provided over this summer.

jenquill

in reply to colin M. I agree with everything-so well put.
I volunteered to be an ambassador because thats what i wanted to be. I have volunteered before-this was different.
I wanted to show visitors a side of London they may not have seen before.The feedback seems to be saying it worked!
I would like to do some form of Ambassadorial work in the future. Volunteering in the wider sense is another issue entirely.

Talk London

Hi ColinM and Jenquill,

Thanks so much for your comments. We do know from the feedback here that many Team London Ambassadors volunteered for the love of London and wanted to show London at its very best during the 2012 Games. We also appreciate that Team London Ambassadors and Gamesmakers come from a range of different backgrounds and are likely to be interested in doing very different things. While many people may want to continue to provide a welcoming service for visitors to London others may want to get involved in other types of volunteering.

You may have heard that Veronica Wadley has recently been appointed as the Mayor's new Senior Adviser for Team London, Volunteering, Charities and Sponsorship. Veronica wants to ensure that the volunteering legacy continues by delivering more opportunities for everyone who would like to get involved. One of the first things Veronica will be doing is to send out an online survey to all Team London Ambassadors to find out about what motivated people to become an ambassador, what people gained from the ambassador experience, what they would be interested in doing in the future and how they would like to find out about opportunities.

This survey, along with the discussions taking place here, are just the start of Veronica's work to find out more about the opportunities people are looking for and to create exciting opportunities that fit the bill. The survey will be sent out shortly and available here on Talk London. Watch this space for more news.

- Jon
Talk London Community Manager

ColinM

Jon
Thanks for the information about Veronica Wadley and her plans. No, I had not heard about this, in fact I am not sure how I would expect to hear about it? Has she appeared on local TV or radio, or in the press explaining these points? If so I have missed her I am afraid.

However, although it is no doubt early days in her planning about what to ask us in an online survey, I am concerned that the indication provided by you is still at risk of confusing "volunteering opportunities" with volunteering as a London Ambassador. Veronica's political remit is doubtless much wider and I can understand her wishes to gain insights into what motivates people, but if City Hall wants "cash in" on the London Ambassador legacy to continue to promote London and to maintain the momentum created this summer, she must beware turning us off with a load of other questions to which our answers may be "not interested".

That would surely be a mistake.

Joanna Biddolph

I'm only interested in promoting London - I already volunteer in other organisations as do many others. This grabbed me because it was about London. I would give up time every fortnight, say, to go on shift and if enough of us do this, it could work effectively in strategically useful places. I think it is essential that the London Ambassador role, if it continues (which I think it should), is highly visible - on the streets with pods, as we've just done it, not hidden in a central tourist office where it will inevitably stagnate. We need to be visible and obvious - with the same positive, helpful spirit we had during the Games. Free maps, the brilliant London Planner (did anyone know this existed? why is it so hidden? it is so much better than Time Out as it's written for visitors, not insiders) and lots of helpful, smiley, knowledgable, well-trained, willing, London-Ambassador-branded people. Surely it's do-able?

NevHarkin

We do need to build on alll the hard work already done. We have a pool of willing volunteers who should be accesssed as often as possible where the need arises. I was speaking with one of my colleagues who is involved in several volunteering initiatives and the most difficult thing she had previously identified in getting volunteers is to get them through the door for that first contact. We have nearly 8000 people who have already made that first contact so one of the most difficult steps has already been completed we now need to keep them engaged.
We should have, if possible, some form of London Ambassador/meeter/Greeter programme on an ongoing basis. On Saturday Live this morning (Radio 4) they were talking to some folk in Chatham that do just this. If Chatham can manage it on a regular basis surely London can.

Joanna Biddolph

I agree, Nev. We are all enthusiastic right now and our enthusiasm needs to be captured before it dissipates. And the pods are ready and waiting, too.

Talk London

Hey everyone,

I just wanted to check that everyone had received the email from my colleagues at Team London Ambassadors about the survey I mentioned the other day.

If you didn’t, don’t worry, because you can answer the survey by clicking this link: http://static.london.gov.uk/surveys/team-london-ambassadors/

Your feedback is essential for helping us to work out what about the Team London Ambassador programme worked well and what you’d change. We’re also really keen to hear your thoughts on what happens next, so it would be great if you can give us just a few minutes of your time.

Thanks

- Jon
Talk London Community Manager

robin27

Done the survey. It doesn't actually address the future much, more collecting of demographics and job seeker information. A next step would be identifying specific tasks that need doing and see if people are willing to do them. The momentum is dropping and there are so many other activities needing volunteers. Will the London volunteer guides disappear into bureaucracy?

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