Michelle Young has loved volunteering since she was a teenager. In fact, she loves volunteering so much, she’s made it her job!
In her new role as Volunteer Recruitment and Selection Coordinator at Birmingham 2022, she’ll sift through applications from people keen to join the Commonwealth Collective and be one of 13,000 volunteers who’ll be the heartbeat of the Commonwealth Games.
Michelle is registered blind and uses a guide dog, Hugo the German Shepherd. She says that, as the Games for everyone, people who may have additional access needs should apply to volunteer for this once-in-a-lifetime chance:
“There are tonnes of roles that disabled people can do at the Games. My advice would be to do some research on the types of roles available, be realistic about what you can do, and find a role that is best suited to your skills. The Games will do all it can to make sure your needs are accommodated, and that can make all the difference to a disabled person.”
Birmingham 2022 is committed to making reasonable adaptations to volunteer roles to ensure that people with alternative needs can volunteer. You can specify these on your application form, including whether you need a companion to support you, or require a British Sign Language interpreter.
“it’s almost magical!”
Michelle’s message to anyone with alternative needs who’s considering applying is “go for it!”:
“Have a look at what is available; there might be something you haven’t even considered. Having a disability absolutely does not discount you from volunteering. It’s really important that disabled people are visible as volunteers at major Games, especially the Commonwealth Games with its integrated para programme.
“Volunteering can help provide disabled people with really important experience and skills which can help bridge barriers to finding paid work. Disabled people are skilled and capable and volunteering is an opportunity to showcase the problem solving skills we’ve all had to develop in our everyday lives.”
Michelle’s experience volunteering at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games took her to the Tollcross International Swimming Centre, where she helped to ensure athletes and officials were looked after. She says it was an experience she’ll never forget:
“I loved interacting with the athletes from so many different countries. Being part of the volunteering team was such a sociable experience with so many different people and backgrounds and knowledge to share. Even years after the Games have finished, whenever people talk about volunteering they light up and come alive as they relive their experiences.”
Now an adopted Brummie in her new role at Birmingham 2022, Michelle says she can’t wait for the buzz she felt in Glasgow to come to Birmingham:
“It’s hard to explain what a Games does to a city and how it makes people feel, it’s almost magical! Volunteering is for anyone at any stage in their life. No matter who you are or what you do, there is always something you can learn, something you have to offer and you will definitely never have an experience like it.”