THE search to find more than 13,000 volunteers for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games has begun. Applications open this week to coincide with Volunteers’ Week, with the aim of providing a community of passionate people with the chance to play a vital role in delivering the Games in just over a year’s time.
The volunteers – known as the ‘Commonwealth Collective’ – will be a dedicated and dynamic group that will reflect the diversity of the West Midlands as well as the modern Commonwealth.
The volunteers that join the Commonwealth Collective will be the public faces of Birmingham 2022 and represent the heart and soul of the Games experience for athletes, officials, spectators and a global audience of over one billion. The Games is the largest sporting and cultural event ever to be held in the West Midlands and the biggest in the UK for a decade.
The majority of volunteer roles don’t need any formal experience or qualifications, with full training provided. Roles include drivers, first aiders, meet & greeters, venue preppers, kit carriers, courtside assistants, and everything in between to help the Games run smoothly and create a unique experience right across the region.
The 13,000 volunteers who form the Commonwealth Collective will receive approximately 250,000 hours of training and complete one million hours of volunteer time.
Applicants must be aged 18 by 1st January 2022 and can select preferred areas of interest, which include Event Services, Accreditation, Transport, Sport and Media. A young volunteer programme for 14-17-year-olds will begin recruitment in the autumn.
25,000 shortlisted applicants will be invited to an interview at the Volunteer Selection Centre between September and December 2021, which will be held at the iconic Library of Birmingham. Successful volunteers will be notified with a role offer from January 2022.
To mark the launch of volunteering applications, Birmingham 2022 enlisted the help of three elite athletes to volunteer at West Midlands community organisations and sports clubs to encourage applications.
Para-swimming legend and Birmingham 2022 board member Ellie Simmonds, Team England rugby sevens player Heather Fisher and Commonwealth gold medal-winning boxer Galal Yafai took time out of their training schedules to give back and volunteer, trying out some of the tasks that the ‘Commonwealth Collective’ might typically handle.
- Ellie Simmonds spent the day helping to help clean up Walsall’s canals with litter picking charity ‘World Against Single-Use Plastic’, also known as WASUP. WASUP is one of 50 groups supported by the United By Birmingham 2022 community programme, and local hero Simmonds donned a high-vis jacket and grabber to join the squad in their litter picking along the canal.
- Commonwealth boxing champion Galal Yafai spent the day disguised as a volunteer at the 5UP community boxing gym in Handsworth, another project supported by the United By Birmingham 2022 community programme. The Birmingham-born boxer helped with tasks to prepare the gym before surprising a young group of aspiring boxers with a masterclass.
- Team England rugby sevens legend Heather Fisher mucked in at Birmingham Moseley Rugby Club, helping to set up a training session before surprising young players with some coaching tips.
Athletes often emphasise what an important role volunteers have in making a Games. These athletes took the time to experience life as a volunteer, giving something back to their community just as volunteers at Birmingham 2022 will be able to do.
Five-time Paralympic swimming champion and Birmingham 2022 board member, Ellie Simmonds, said:
“Volunteers are the heartbeat of the Commonwealth Games, the unsung heroes that allow us as athletes to succeed. Volunteering at WASUP was a fantastic way for me to give back to my local community in Walsall, and I hope it inspires others to do the same. Volunteering at Birmingham 2022 will be a unique opportunity to contribute to the community and experience a home Games, so I’d encourage people of the West Midlands to submit an application. Even my parents and my coach are going to apply!”
John Crabtree, Birmingham 2022 Chairman, commented:
“The pandemic has seen so many wonderful examples of people coming together to support their neighbours and each other and has served to underline what we have always known – that we are stronger together. We will now see this first-hand at Birmingham 2022 with the formidable Commonwealth Collective. Our volunteers will be part of something special, and the Collective will celebrate the unique qualities of each and every one of them. We know that together the Collective will be a shining example of the best of the human spirit.”
Birmingham City Council Leader Ian Ward stated:
“Birmingham’s greatest asset has always been its people and their warmth. This is a friendly, supportive city, and our divers and proud communities, which represent all parts of the Commonwealth, will ensure that everyone coming to Birmingham for the Games is given a warm welcome. I know that our committed and enthusiastic team of volunteers will do the city proud, showing the world just how bold Birmingham really is.”
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, noted:
“This is an incredible opportunity for residents across the West Midlands, and in particular young people, to get involved in the Commonwealth Games. We know these games are going to be a once-in-a-generation moment for our region, so we must get as many people as possible involved.
“Everyone who volunteers will be given extensive training, helping them gain key skills to help with future job prospects. We are also, of course, using the Games to provide extensive employment opportunities alongside the volunteering roles.”
Minister for Sport and Tourism Nigel Huddleston added:
“Volunteers are the backbone of any great Games, and the Commonwealth Collective will be no different. This is a once in a generation opportunity for people across the UK to play a part in the biggest sporting and cultural event ever to be held in the West Midlands. As the faces of Birmingham 2022, this team of volunteers will represent the very best of the region, the country and the modern Commonwealth.”
Balbir Seimar volunteers at Walsall based litter picking charity WASUP, part of the United By Birmingham 2022 community programme. She is planning to apply to volunteer at Birmingham 2022.
“Volunteering really is the best way to give back to your community. As a volunteer, I have met so many like-minded people and learned from many others. I’ve learned to understand diverse communities and work towards a common goal. It’s supported my mental health and physical wellbeing and given me experience in leadership and team building, all useful transferable skills in any job.”
“I volunteered for the Birmingham 2022 handover ceremony back in 2018, and I felt the excitement then for what the Commonwealth Games can bring to the region. I can’t wait to apply to volunteer for Birmingham 2022 and be a part of such a special event for the West Midlands.”
Dame Louise Martin, President of Commonwealth Games Federation, said:
“As volunteers are the heart and soul of the Commonwealth Games, it is very exciting to launch the search to find 13,000 special individuals to form the Commonwealth Collective. They will be the face of Birmingham 2022, interacting with athletes, officials and spectators to create experiences that will last a lifetime.
“The Commonwealth Collective will showcase the very best of the West Midlands, the country and the Commonwealth, so if you are passionate about being part of Birmingham 2022, I would urge you to submit an application to be part of an event that will be truly memorable.”
Applications are now open to be a volunteer at Birmingham 2022 and join the Commonwealth Collective. To apply and find out more, please visit: www.birmingham2022.com.