Spirit of 2012 is partnering up with Team Personal Best to support the London 2017 inspiration Volunteer programme. England Athletics will receive £900,000 over the next three years. The funding was awarded in response to research commissioned by Spirit of 2012 and conducted by England Athletics and is for the purpose of increasing the number, diversity and skills of athletics volunteers, improve their experience and give as many people as possible the opportunity to participate in athletics.
To celebrate Volunteers' Week, we’ve been speaking to some #StarVolunteers to hear about their own volunteering experiences. We spoke to Ellie Page, who is a volunteer at the weekly Great Run Local and Park Run for ViewTube Runners – an off-track running club in London.
Thanks for talking to us Ellie. What made you decide to become an Athletics volunteer?
Before I joined the club I did 5km and 10km races on my own. But after I completed the races I lost my motivation. I decided to join a running club to keep up the motivation. When I started running regularly with the group I was happy to start volunteering as well! Volunteering is a huge part of my role at running club. My own experience as a runner means I understand the importance of the different volunteer roles to ensure a fantastic experience for the participants.
What does your volunteering role involve?
We organise free weekly 2km and 5km runs in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford on Sundays and the 5km Park Run at Wanstead Flats on Saturdays. I also volunteer at several yearly marathon events and have a variety of volunteering roles. These include: timing, organising the results, collecting the participants’ baggage, handing out water or medals, being a Marshall, Pacer or a Guide Runner. Our club sets up hydration stations handing out bottled water to runners and we also give goodie bags and medals at the end of the races.
What positive difference has volunteering made in your own life?
Belonging to a local running club and volunteering for them has allowed me to make lots of new friends! It’s also given me the chance to gain new skills and qualifications. I’ve gained a First Aid certificate and also trained as a Guide Runner for visually impaired and blind people on a course by England Athletics. The course gave me an education on the different eyesight conditions and a chance to experience what it’s like to have a visual impairment. People with visual impairments came to the Great Local Run and our club volunteers guided them.
Do you think athletics in the UK is inclusive for people with disabilities such as visual impairment, or is there more to be done?
My running club is inclusive, anybody is welcome to join! However, we still only have a few disabled members. The England Athletics course to train Guide Runners for visually impaired and blind runners is excellent, but my club rarely gets requests for volunteer guides. There should be more done to encourage disabled children and adults to participate in running and to break the barriers they may face. Athletics is for all age groups, abilities and fitness levels!
Why should people get involved in Athletics volunteering?
You will learn new skills which will look fantastic on your CV. You also occasionally get perks like next year free entry to the event where you volunteered. Running races can sometimes be expensive to enter so this is a great incentive. Plus it’s fun, you will meet new people and make lifelong friends.
You’re volunteering at London 2017 this summer, what are you most looking forward to?
I am excited to be volunteering at the marathon starting at St Paul’s and the 20km, and 50km walking events at St James’s Park this summer. It’s a chance to see world class athletes in action and it’s rewarding to support these big event races to ensure that they run smoothly. After running for a while you get to know people, it’s nice to encourage and cheer them on!