EMPLOYERS across Huddersfield are bracing themselves for requests from staff wishing to volunteer for the London 2012 Olympics – with the games due to start a year today.
Olympic organisers LOCOG opened the floodgates for 250,000 volunteer applications in July last year and are now well on with the recruitment track.
Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust is just one of the region’s employers which will approve a policy to allow staff to work as volunteers.
The policy, which will be discussed at the Trust’s board meeting tomorrow, sets out the Strategic Health Authorities responsibility for providing 3,000 medical volunteers, with around 80% coming from outside London.
The NHS has made a commitment to the Games by agreeing paid leave for as many staff as will be needed.
Steven Leigh, of the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “In the current economic climate it would be unrealistic to expect employers to offer paid leave.
“Managers will deal with any requests to take annual leave, in order to allow staff to volunteer at the games, so that it does not have an adverse impact on the business.”
A Kirklees Council, spokesman said: “Whilst the council will be sympathetic to any request, we would look for employees to use the methods available to them, for example through annual leave, flexi-time, annualised hours or extended unpaid leave.
“The manager would need to match the request with the business needs of the council, therefore the earlier that the request is made the more likely arrangements could be put in place to allow it to be taken.”
Phil Sherwood, LOCOG head of volunteering, said: “We are looking for the best team players from across the UK to volunteer at the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and that’s why we have interviewed right across the UK to find the people who will be the faces of the Games.
“Our team will be finding out if the applicants have got what it takes to be a Games Maker in the Autumn and are willing to go beyond their personal best to help us stage a great Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“The interview process is a huge undertaking, but vitally important to find the right people for the success of the 2012 Games.”
LOCOG was unable to provide a regional breakdown for volunteers, but a regional event in Salford last year saw 5,000 people interviewed.
A further number of children and young people will also be invited to attend the Games in the education programme Get Set.
Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney, who is a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group for London 2012, said: “As a big sports fan I can’t wait until the Olympic Games come to our shores.
“Our community will be involved with the Olympic Torch relay coming through our area, local youngsters have signed up to be volunteers and many of our local schools are getting involved.”