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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

The year of my life

This feature is about 9 years old

​Sports science student Jo Swains is having the year of her life having successfully been picked as a volunteer at the Commonwealth Games and this year's Ryder Cup

This year will go down as possibly my best ever. First I was successful in being selected to be a Commonwealth Games volunteer, then I got picked to take part in the Ryder Cup - which tees off this Friday.

I’ve loved sport since I was a child. My dad played football for Hamilton Accies and we were brought up being a very active and sporting family.

The games during the summer were fantastic – I’m in my third year of a sport science degree at Jordanhill College in Glasgow so I was able to use the experience as part of my course.

Jo Swains

17,500 from 27 different countries applied for just 1,800 volunteering places so I see myself as one of the chosen few

Jo Swains

I’m not a golfer but the whole Ryder Cup experience will be fantastic. Although it’s far shorter than the games – four days in total – the organisation behind it is just as intense and every bit as professional.

Some 17,500 from 27 different countries applied for just 1,800 volunteering places so I see myself as one of the chosen few.

Volunteers will be taking on and off-course roles, including: on course marshals; park and ride volunteers; crowd safety marshals; bus ambassadors; programme and radio sales assistants; buggy shuttle drivers and media centre or merchandise pavilion assistants.

Part of my role will be marshalling on match days, keeping crowds within the perimeters. I’ll also be selling programmes and helping out with merchandise.

Crowd control is one of the major issues at golf events. Because the course is open, it’s not like a stadium where people are seated in segregated areas.

Along with our volunteering duties, every Ryder Cup volunteer is guaranteed at least a half-day of viewing time on course during each day of the competition as well as receiving clothing, food and the guarantee of the opportunity to purchase a Ryder Cup season ticket for a friend or family member. So the perks aren’t bad at all.

We’ve been undertaking training so everyone is well versed in what awaits them and equipped for every scenario. We also do evacuation training and a large part of the programme deals with health and safety – a wee bit boring but necessary.

Already I’ve met many friends. Some are on my course, others have arrived from abroad especially for the event. Some volunteers are Ryder Cup veterans having travelled to the US to volunteer in previous competitions.

Unusually I haven’t met too many who are golfers. Then again I didn’t meet too many volunteers at the Commonwealth Games who were athletic.

Most just relish the opportunity to be part of something big, something historic.

How to be a successful volunteer
1. Enjoy yourself
2. Remember you're representing you country
3. Use the opportunity to boost your CV
4. Take the time to get to know new friends.


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