Hackney residents graduate from 2012 volunteering programme

More than 150 Hackney residents graduated from a London 2012-related volunteering programme yesterday (Wed 2 Sept).

They now have a nationally recognised qualification and are guaranteed an interview to apply to become one of 70,000 official volunteers needed during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Personal Best programme is supported by London 2012 and Hackney Council. It is funded by the London Development Agency (LDA) and Learning and Skills Council (LSC). It is co-ordinated in Hackney by The Learning Trust, which runs all the education services in the borough on behalf of Hackney Council.

Personal Best is open to Hackney residents who are not in work or education but would like to gain opportunities to volunteer and improve their skills and chances of getting a job.

Graduates were invited to a celebratory event at Hackney Town Hall where they were presented a certificate by the Speaker of Hackney, Cllr Muttalip Unluer. They were also joined by Hackney’s Olympic and Paralympic Ambassador Dervis Konuralp, a Paralympic swimmer.

Barbara Dormer from Clapton, Hackney, was one of the graduates. She has been volunteering since her eight-year-old daughter was born. She volunteered at after school clubs, arts clubs and in the local community generally.

She said: “Although I had lots of volunteering experience what I really lacked was confidence. I found out about the Personal Best programme through Working Links. I started the 13 week course straight away and it really helped boost my confidence. I received so much support from the Personal Best advisors and college staff, as well as fellow learners. Now I would really like to learn more new skills by doing further training and hopefully end up working in the Olympics itself.”

Diane Russell, 49, also graduated. She said: “I really enjoyed the course. I was shown how to improve my CV and learnt event management skills. And I’m now working as an administrator and event manager.”

Speaker of Hackney, Cllr Muttalip Unluer, said: “Congratulations to everyone who has graduated from the Personal Best programme – this is a fantastic achievement. This also demonstrates how good partnership working can benefit our communities.”

Cllr Guy Nicholson, Hackney Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, said: “Volunteering is a great way for residents to get involved with the 2012 Games now. By taking part in the Personal Best programme, residents can learn new skills and build up a wealth of experience before 2012 – and be in with a chance of becoming an official volunteer for the Games.”

Mumtaz Bashir, Head of Personal Best at the LDA, said: "Personal Best can be a truly life changing experience for people in Hackney. We have already seen participants turn their fortunes around by achieving their first job or qualification.

"We are delivering an Olympic legacy now by helping thousands of Londoners of all backgrounds to benefit from the opportunities linked to the 2012 Games. Personal Best will help people to begin new careers before 2012 and contribute to a successful London for decades to come."

Trish Smith, Head of Adult Learning at The Learning Trust, said: “The Personal Best Programme is making a big difference for people who have been out of work for many years, equipping them with important transferable skills to help secure jobs”.

More than 300 Hackney residents have graduated from the Personal Best volunteering programme since it started in Hackney in 2007.

How to apply for a space on the Personal Best programme:

Applications for the next phase of the programme are now being accepted, with 200 spaces available. To apply or to find out more, contact:

The Personal Best Team, The Learning Trust, 1 Reading Lane, Hackney, or call: 020 8820 7075 or email: