Mike Sainsbury on the transport logistics behind London 2012

5 September 2012

Sydney Olympic volunteers installation

I am a Human Resources Project Officer in the UCL Human Resources Policy and Planning team.

It seems like ages since I went for my interview for an Olympic volunteer role. It was actually February last year and November when I got told that I had been accepted as part of the Transport Workforce Operations Team at the ExCel.

I had originally been inspired to apply by seeing the metal poles outside the Sydney Olympic Stadium, which had the names of all the volunteers at the 2000 Olympics recorded on them. I decided then (this was in early 2005, well before the bid result was announced) that if London ever held the games I would like to be part of it.

My team’s role was primarily to support volunteer drivers by checking them in, making sure they had everything they needed for their shift and dealing with any issues they had. It didn’t seem the most exciting role in the world as I wouldn’t be facing the public, not interacting with officials and competitors or working in a competition arena.  In practice, the role turned out much as I expected.

I spent a lot of time working behind a computer or on the phone re-arranging shift times or rotas and dealing with queries. This turned out to be a more important part of the role than originally envisaged as the lower demand than expected for volunteer drivers meant we were constantly re-arranging driving schedules to meet anticipated demand. For some reason, over my ten shifts I soon got regarded as a system ‘expert’ and got asked all sorts of questions I didn’t always know the answer to!

So the role wasn’t particularly glamorous but I had a good time. The team of people I was working with, both LOCOG staff and other volunteers were great, the time passed quickly and we were really appreciated for the help we gave. On a couple of occasions I was given the team’s pass which allowed us to get into some of the events going on upstairs in ExCel. I saw a bit of Table Tennis and had a front row view of the men’s Fencing Foil, which was really exciting at close quarters.

At the end of my last shift I was given various gifts including a scroll of thanks from Lord Seb. I know that in the years to come when I reflect on the 2012 Olympics I will look back with some pride that I, in a very small way, was part of the 70,000 volunteers who helped make it such a success. Who knows, I might even get my name on an installation somewhere in East London.