Coinciding with Volunteers’ Week 2023 the Commonwealth Games Legacy Charity, United By 2022, has launched its volunteering legacy with the Volunteers Collective and a new report on Event Volunteering in the West Midlands. The Volunteers Collective is a new digital match-making service that coordinates people looking for volunteering opportunities with organisations looking for volunteers, supported by Spirit of 2012. This is a moment to celebrate the contribution that volunteers make and offer new opportunities for people that want to volunteer.
At every moment and in every location, the award winning 14,000-strong Commonwealth Collective of volunteers, in their stand-out Balti Orange uniforms, were the beating heart of Birmingham 2022. The new platform will support them to continue being part of an amazing volunteering team until at least 2025. Initial invitations will go to 22,000 people.
The new Volunteers Collective portal will start by matching Games volunteers with the new events coming to the region in the wake of the Games. A report published today, the Future of Event Volunteering in West Midlands, considers the demand for volunteers and how organisers can engage and retain an inclusive volunteer workforce.
Hosted by the United By 2022 Legacy Charity, the portal will help event organisers and regional organisations, from local charities to youth sports clubs, to connect with the West Midlands’ talented volunteers. After an initial period during which Games volunteers will be given the first chance to sign up, it will then act as an open door for new entrants to volunteering, including near-miss applicants and young people who weren’t old enough to be part of the Commonwealth Collective in 2022, as well as opening up opportunities for people inspired to volunteer during the Games.
The Volunteers Collective was developed with an initial investment from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, a development grant from Spirit of 2012, the London 2012 Olympics legacy charity, and technical development support from Rosterfy, Birmingham 2022's volunteer management software partner.
United By 2022 Chair, Sir David Thompson QPM DL said “We set out to deliver more legacy for more people in the region and this new volunteering portal is the start of a series of announcements the charity will be making over the summer. We are delighted that our first portal partnership will be with Birmingham City Council whose exciting calendar of events is a perfect reason to get the Games Volunteers back together again.”
Councillor John Cotton, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “There were many stars of the show during Birmingham 2022, but none bigger than the Commonwealth Collective. These people, many of them from our city, showed the world the brilliance of Birmingham. They also developed skills, qualities and experience that can now be used for the good of our region in the future. This new platform will enable them and others to play their part in supporting a wide range of projects, further strengthening the legacy of our Commonwealth Games.”
Ruth Hollis, CEO, Spirit said: “We know that events can be a fantastic way to get people into and keeping on volunteering, and we’re delighted that this platform will build on the evidence from what works from previous events, to deliver opportunities for the people of Birmingham and the West Midlands.”
HM Lord-Lieutenant Sir John Crabtree OBE CStJ said "The volunteers at Birmingham 2022 became the very definition of our 'Games for Everyone' vision, helping us across the Games landscape to reach as many people as possible. Their dedication and enthusiasm brought us all together, helping us to forge new friendships and working relationships that have already outlasted those 11 glorious days of sport. This report and the new Volunteering platform are a welcome addition for our region, cementing our ambitions to grow and maintain a long-term pool of passionate and committed volunteers."
Post-Games market testing highlighted a demand from Games Volunteers looking for further volunteering opportunities. But there is a clear gap in the City and Region for a service that matches events looking for a volunteer workforce with West Midlands based volunteers.
Designed to dovetail with well-established local voluntary organisations like BVSC, One Walsall and Voluntary Action Coventry, the platform aims to link up the whole region, connecting existing opportunities and support services to the many thousands of people who stepped forward to play a part in the Games.
Nicola Turner MBE, Executive Director for the Legacy Charity said: "We were all blown away last summer by the enthusiasm of the thousands of volunteers that worked on the Games. Their pride and can do attitude ensured that the event was a success. Unusually for a global sporting event of this kind, many of the Commonwealth Collective were first-time Gamers, with a high proportion from Birmingham and the West Midlands.”
For those organisations who rely on volunteers, capturing this enthusiasm in the wake of the Games is essential, and for local organisations, including West Midlands Police and the Canal and Rivers Trust, attracting a new crop of volunteers from a wide variety of backgrounds, was the top legacy priority.
The Games brought forward a whole new generation of volunteers, representative of local communities and from many backgrounds and age groups. From this pool of talent there is also the opportunity to grow other important volunteer groups such as the Cadets and Special Constables.
Growing the region's volunteering capacity will help to deliver the ambition to win another eight major events over the next decade and become a major event city. The new platform will support these goals to become a major event city. It is a clear demonstration of the region’s talent and readiness to serve again as a world class host city.