2,700 young people sign up as community volunteers for Olympics
Published 27 April 2012
Some 2,700 young people from churches across London have signed up to be community volunteers during the Olympics.
The number far exceeds the target of 2,000 young volunteers during the Games.
Members of "the2012" collective were formally commissioned by the Bishop of London, Dr Richard Chartres, at St Paul's Cathedral this week.
The2012 volunteers will now be enrolled to help with Olympic initiatives being planned by local churches and community groups across London.
These range from distributing water to spectators during the cycle race to operating a community cafe in East London for local people to watch the Games in company.
As the service came to a close, a blizzard of confetti was released from the iconic whispering gallery at St Paul’s as the Bishop of London led the newly commissioned ambassadors through the Cathedral’s Great West Door.
The service at St Paul’s also saw the launch of the2012 messaging, which will use social networks and SMS messages to set a challenge for the volunteers each day, as a ‘dispersed flash-mob’ aiming to be a force for good in every postcode in London.
The volunteers have been receiving training in preparation for outreach over the past seven months.
Wednesday's service marked the official beginning of service for the2012.
Prayers at the service were led by Pete Greig, founder of 24/7 prayer, who is helping to coordinate 70 days of prayer through 1,000 communities across the UK with the Olympic Torch Relay, starting in Lands End on Saturday 19 May.
He said: "It's thrilling to see thousands of young people galvanised by the Olympics, catalysed by their faith and mobilised to make a difference in our communities this year.
"With so many negative headlines about looting and knife-crime, hoodies and youth unemployment, the2012 initiative celebrates the fact that most young people in our capital are fundamentally good and that Christian faith is as relevant as ever. I’m delighted to be involved."
The service was joined by wheelchair racer Anne Wafula Strike, who is a GB Paralympic World Cup team member and in the running for Team GB.
"As a Paralympian, I am full of admiration for everyone who is giving up their time, energy and dedication to volunteer to support others during 2012 Paralympic and Olympic Games in London," she said.
"Each one of the commissioned ambassadors with be rewarded spiritually and they deserve a gold medal of their own."
The volunteers are aged 13 to 35 and come from 300 churches across the capital.
Lidija Mavra, a volunteer from Bow Common, is the co-founder of a social enterprise that coaches homeless people to give walking tours, providing them with an income and allowing them to share their unique perspectives on the capital’s culture and history. Unseen Tours will be running during the summer Games.
She said: “I feel really privileged to be part of the 2012 service at St Paul's - it's a wonderful way of bringing young Christians together from all across London to reflect upon and share ideas on how we can make London a better place in 2012."
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