TeamKinetic’s James volunteered at the Volvo Ocean Race in Cardiff last week. The major international sports event visited Cardiff for fourteen days and nicely coincided with national Volunteers Week 2018. Take a read of James’ experience and how the event catered for volunteers welfare.

Volvo Ocean Race

Arriving at the event ready for the start of shift briefing, I was unsure what to expect from my volunteering. I had no past encounters with  Yachts and had only been sailing a couple of times. However, my previous experience volunteering had provided me with the reassurance that management is usually one of the nicest and most welcoming around.  Sport Cardiff was no different. Arriving to the volunteer hub I was welcomed by Gareth Power, Volunteer Coordinator for Sport Cardiff . He welcomed me to the event, thanked me for travelling there and supplied me with a ‘port crew’ polo, poncho, cap and even a reusable plastic bottle. I was then showed  a seat ready for the briefing.

One thing I noticed was how friendly, welcoming and understanding everyone was at the event. Whether it was your first day or tenth, everyone was smiling and eager to help one another out. Following a light-hearted brief, we were given the opportunity to put ourselves forward for the different positions at the various stands available. During the brief we were told about the running order of the day, the time of lunches and shown were we could make hot drinks, and find the toilet. There were also various watering stations and sun cream dispensers across the event, an additional touch which was greatly welcomed in the days heat.

At my station, I was greeted by several volunteers who explained my role and helped me find my feet in the role. Before we knew it, we were welcoming people into the stand and showing them through the various aspects.  At various points in the day, we were checked on by the event staff both from  Sport Cardiff and Volvo Ocean Race, making sure we were okay and all comfortable. Halfway through the shift, we received our tasty lunch and given the opportunity to take a comfort break as other volunteers minded the stand.  Once our shift was completed we were free to spend a little longer socialising and invited to a local pub to enjoy a socialise.

The following day I returned to the volunteer hub and the briefing process was repeated, with a different joke but just as much enthusiasm. This time around I went to a different stand for my shift. The  Grinding Challenge was a competition stand where entrants had to raise of the mast as quickly as possible. As part of a four-person team, we were responsible for encouraging attendees to participate, demonstrating their technique and capturing an action picture using the stations ipads, which could be sent to them via email. The stand brought out everyone’s competitive side and was amusing to watch…of course I had to have a go!

James' Attempting the Grinding Challenge

James’ Attempting the Grinding Challenge

During my time at the event, I took the opportunity to speak with several volunteers and ask why they decided to give up their time. The answers varied greatly, from enjoying sports, to be being a yacht enthusiast, gaining work experience, previous experience volunteering with  Sport Cardiff and even just to say ‘I was there’. It was clear that everyone had their own reasons for being there, but in doing so the gained a sense of gratification and provided others with their time and efforts.

A few days after the event, I received an email from Gareth titled: VOR – Thank You / Diolch. The email was a perfect example the simple things you can do to say ‘Thank you’ and really helped to make me feel a valued member of the volunteer team at the event.

Despite only spending a short time at the event, I had a truly great experience and learnt much more than I had expected. Whilst at the event I developed my people skills and adapted to new environments, operating in a team and learning about yachts, volunteering at the Volvo Ocean Race had provided me with an opportunity to do something completely different to my regular day and connected me with so many people whose path I may never have crossed.  Volunteering at the such a large sport event was a truly enjoyable experience and one I would happily repeat in the future.