The test events that ran smoothly across London during the riots back in August 2011 is testament to the hard work taking place behind the scenes of an organisation tasked with delivering the 2012 Olympics and creating a legacy beyond the Games.
As part of the London bid presentation made in Singapore on the 6 July, 2005, Tony Blair quoted within it Nelson Mandela’s endorsement of London hosting the Games.
Nelson Mandela said this: “I can’t think of a better place than London to hold an event that unites the world. London will inspire young people around the world and ensure that the Olympic Games remain the dream for future generations.”
Social impact & creating a legacy
Whatever your view is of the riots, much debate has since taken place about the root causes of dissent from young people. Yet, as a nation we can take heart. Leaders have the power to create change, make a difference and build a lasting legacy for their people. It’s this vision that the leadership team of LOCOG adheres to in everything they do when it comes to recruiting in diverse talent, inspiring its employees and creating a culture of excellence.
“London is one of the most multi-cultural societies in the world and we need to fulfil our obligations to involve young people,” states Tomlin. “Staging the Olympics is such a mammoth task and the people we employ need to emulate our athletes in delivering an elite performance. Working for the Olympics is a once in a lifetime opportunity and during interview all employees are asked ‘what legacy do you want to leave behind?’ All our people feel so privileged to be serving their country. Our CEO Paul Deighton is a believer in only doing great things with great people.”
At the heart of LOCOG’s recruitment strategy sit six strands of diversity; age, disability, faith, gender, sexuality, belief – with each strand sponsored by a board director to create a panel, chaired by the CEO. Currently the workforce of LOCOG stands at 3,000 employees and this will grow to a staggering 200,000 in the lead up to the Games, including contractors and volunteers.
Tomlin’s vision is to use the Games to make social impact and to create a legacy for London by reaching out to the wider community and involving young people.
“We have set a target to recruit 15/20% of people from some of the most deprived areas in London and are working with the local six boroughs surrounding the Olympic Parks including Newham, Waltham Forest, Barking & Dagenham, Hackney, Greenwich and Tower Hamlets,” she says.
LOCOG has since launched a number of initiatives to target young people. Get Set is the official London 2012 education programme where the organisation provides schools and colleges with learning resources for children and students between the ages of 3-19. There’s also a Young Ambassadors’ programme where 150 youngsters are set to inspire individuals round the country to get involved in sport. The programme forms an important part of the PE and sport strand of Get Set.
In bidding for the Games, London 2012 made a commitment to deliver a project to support 100 young leaders on an intensive personal development programme. One hundred BP employees will provide individual leadership coaching to them . The delivery agencies on the ground are the National Young Volunteers Service and the Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust. These organisations will help to provide the young leaders with relevant support and opportunities in their local communities, including additional support from a number of athlete mentors.
Of the 70,000 volunteer opportunities available, 2,000 are reserved for those under 18. This is part of the LOCOG Young Games Maker programme. They will be trained up as athlete chaperones; carrying their equipment around the Olympic village or taking care of the actual Games themselves (sand-rakers for the Horse Guards Parade, arrow retrievers etc).
Changing people's lives
LOCOG is committed to having an inclusive and representative workforce. They recruit in NEETs (not in education, employment or training), via Jobcentre Plus & job brokerages, and help individuals who are struggling to find a foot on the career ladder, LOCOG is giving them the chance to take up a training opportunity, placing them in volunteering or paid jobs. “We have a ‘Personal Best’ programme focused on working with NEETs and a Get Ahead School Leavers' Programme where we have recruited in 150 school leavers and given them paid jobs. We give these people proper jobs and fantastic learning experiences and they have the opportunity to gain NVQs and qualifications along the way,” says Tomlin.
“All these young people are an integral part of the business. During the test events, when the riots were taking place, it would be easy to judge our youth, yet, we’re proud of our youngsters,” argues Tomlin. “We are a well-respected nation. Our volunteers, school leavers, Young Ambassadors and Young Games Makers had the eyes of the world on them and they were absolutely focused on what they had to do. Everyone pulled together to deliver through the rioting and were doing it in unison.”
She says that her employees are still buzzing and talking about the test events. “Our people are energised because they get to work with a diverse group of people from different backgrounds, classes and age groups. It’s all about everyone rolling up their sleeves and working together.
“At the end of the day, it’s about changing people’s lives, giving someone a job, providing youth with a strong foundation so they get to understand the economics of income, instilling a work ethic and enabling them to work in a best practice environment. We trust our young people. If you give them responsibility, they will embrace it wholeheartedly,” enthuses Tomlin.