Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/732/15170
Volunteering at the Games
A Paralympic volunteer
Standing waiting for the first tube train at 6.30am on a Sunday morning I was surrounded by low-paid workers. These are the workers who keep London going - mostly surviving on the minimum wage, or worse if they've fallen foul of some workfare scheme.
They were in the uniforms of G4S and various cleaning and catering firms and clearly not looking forward to the day very much. I was in the slightly surprising purple and red of the Olympic volunteer. When I got to work I got thanked for turning up and made to feel that what I was doing was appreciated and worthwhile.
Standing on a gate waiting to check tickets with my fellow volunteers, all I could see was an army of enthusiastic spectators, many already covered in flags and wearing silly hats. I spoke to one group of people from Birmingham who had got up at 3am to get there. You could not help but be impressed by their enthusiasm, everyone was determined to have a good time.
There were big groups of people - families, sports clubs, youth groups and suchlike but also large numbers of people with disabilities. Parents were bringing their disabled children.
The Paralympics celebrates athletic achievement, irrespective of disability. But most people with disabilities live in a world which emphasises what they can't do and a government which demonises them as scroungers.
Working in the Olympic Park is like working in a bubble away from the Con-Dems' austerity Britain. People are having fun in pleasant, sometimes breathtaking surroundings. It shows what can be achieved with proper resources. It shows how urgent it is to change this world.
In The Socialist 5 September 2012:
Fight the cuts
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Countering the far-right
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news