Disabled people who want to volunteer at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be able to start applying later this month – nearly two months earlier than non-disabled people.
The 2012 organising committee (LOCOG) decided to give disabled people longer to apply after taking advice from disability organisations and volunteering teams from previous games.
Disabled people who want to apply for general volunteering roles will be able to do so from 27 July, the same day applications open for anti-doping, medical and other specialist roles.
LOCOG has set up arrangements with a number of disability organisations to enable disabled people to apply to volunteer early, and has promised to put disabled people who are interested in touch with one of these organisations.
Non-disabled people will not be able to apply for general volunteering roles – such as spectator assistants and ticket checkers – until 15 September.
Chris Holmes, who won nine Paralympic swimming gold medals and is now director of Paralympic integration for LOCOG, told a meeting of the all party parliamentary disability group that the extra time would let disabled people know they were “on an equal start line” when they started to assess volunteers in September.
Baroness [Jane] Campbell, co-chair of the group, said she wanted to volunteer herself but questioned whether disabled people would “end up on toilet duty”.
But Holmes said: “We want to ensure that not just the workforce but – crucially – the 70,000 volunteers across both games will be representative of the country we live in, across all strands of diversity.”
LOCOG said it would be the biggest UK volunteer recruitment campaign since the Second World War.
A 2012 spokeswoman said organisers “wanted to ensure that should disabled people want to explore if volunteering is for them, they have the largest possible amount of time to apply and can access whatever assistance they require”.
She added: “We want this to be everyone’s 2012 and we know that, historically, disabled people are less likely to apply and are harder to reach.”
The fast-food giant McDonald’s will be helping to select and train general volunteers. But LOCOG said disability awareness training for volunteers would be written and delivered by its own diversity and inclusion team, with support from other organisations.
LOCOG also announced this week that the sticker manufacturer Panini will be publishing a collectable London 2012 sticker collection in the spring of 2012, featuring Paralympic and Olympic legends.
In early 2012, Panini will also launch a “collectable trading card game” featuring successful Paralympic and Olympic athletes from the “past, present and future”.
Information on how to apply to be a volunteer will be available from 27 July at: www.london2012.com/volunteering