Opportunities to volunteer in Hackney

Hackney residents are being offered the opportunity to learn new skills and gain the chance to become an official volunteer for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Spaces are available on the London 2012 Personal Best programme for people who are not in work or education but would like to gain opportunities to volunteer in their community and, at the same time, improve their skills and chances of getting a job.

Residents who graduate from the ten-week course achieve a nationally recognised qualification and a guaranteed interview to become one of the 70,000 volunteers who will help at the London 2012 Games.

Throughout the course they receive advice on further learning and training and gain knowledge of interpersonal skills, fire awareness, public safety awareness and effective customer service.

During Volunteers’ Week 2009 (1-7 June), Hackney Council’s 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Unit is working in partnership with Hackney Voluntary Action to raise awareness of the opportunities available to residents to help others in the borough.

Since the Personal Best programme began in Hackney in 2007, 98 local residents have graduated from the course.

Sarah M Salem from central Hackney has had the opportunity to volunteer at a number of events including last summer’s celebrations that marked the Olympic and Parlaympic handovers, when the flags were passed from Beijing to London.

She said: “The handover celebrations were remarkable and will be remembered as most memorable events by all those who attended. I volunteered at the 1948 street party and did some market research work at Shoreditch Park. It was great to see young and old people completing their survey cards and writing down their feelings about the 1948 London Olympics and the 2012 Games.

“I volunteered as a steward at the Paralympic Handover which was a particularly special event because it was about celebrating people’s achievements despite disabilities. It was close to my heart as I have a disability.”

Sarah added: “I’ve acquired many skills through Personal Best including training on market research, stewarding at events, and assisting people with partial and sight impairment.

“Personal Best has changed my life and allowed me to share my personal best with my community for the benefit of others and myself. The sky is the limit as far as I’m concerned. I may not be the one chosen to volunteer at the 2012 Games but I have promised myself to give the best of myself and to have fun and enjoy myself along the way.”

Cllr Guy Nicholson, Hackney Council Cabinet Member for the 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games, said: “One of Hackney Council’s objectives for the 2012 Games is to give everyone in our borough a chance to get involved in this once-in-a-lifetime event. Volunteering is a great and rewarding way to do that.

“During the Games, 70,000 volunteers will be needed to carry out a wide range of roles, and by volunteering now, residents will be able to get more involved in their communities, learn new skills and build up a wealth of experience before 2012.”

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

Trish Smith, Head of Adult Learning at The Learning Trust, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to learn real skills, get involved and support the Olympic and Paralympic Games. 300 people already have joined the programme. Actually many have already achieved a level 1 qualification and are now in exciting jobs. It really is a great opportunity.”

Anyone interested in the Personal Best programme should contact:
The Personal Best Team, The Learning Trust, 1 Reading Lane, Hackney Central or call: 020 8820 7075 or email:

Hackney Voluntary Action is promoting other volunteering opportunities. Find out more:

Mini- Volunteers Fair at HVA - Thursday 4th June. 11am-5pm
HVA, 92 Dalston Lane, Hackney, E8 1NG

Find out about volunteering and meet with different volunteer involving organisations.

Hackney Voluntary Action, 020 7241 4443,