Olympics ambassador urges other young people to apply by January deadline

Mayor Boris Jonhson says being part of the Games is “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”

A HACKNEY community worker is one of the 8,000 volunteers who will become the welcoming faces of the Olympic Games.

Miss Whiting, a community project manager working with young people in Hackney is among 20,000 people who have applied so far.

Successful applicants will help visitors at airports, stations and in the centre of town during both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. In return they get free training, free travel, food and a uniform.

And now Miss Whiting, 20, of Ballance Road, Homerton, is encouraging other youngsters to get involved too.

She said: “Volunteering has helped to turn my life around and I would strongly recommend it to other young people. I feel very lucky to have been given the opportunities I have through volunteering. Being given responsibility to take charge on issues I feel passionately about gives me a sense of direction and self-worth.”

Miss Whiting was expelled from school before her GCSEs after regularly truanting and spending her time hanging around on the streets but she has now found paid work in a Hackney social enterprise, Social Spider, which works on involving youngsters in inspirational projects, after volunteering with charity Art Against Knives for six months.

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She added: “When I was young there wasn’t really much going on. Nowadays there’s much more opportunity but people don’t seem to know about it.

“In East London, I think a lot of people feel like outcasts from society and don’t know enough about the Olympics. I hope to see youth involvement in the Olympics increase.”

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said ambassadors would be among the most important faces of the Games.

“We want to show off this city at its best, and I can’t think of a better way of doing that than having an army of enthusiastic, passionate and knowledgeable people right on the frontline. Being part of the Games is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I don’t want anyone to let that chance pass them by.”

If you will be 16 or over on January 1 2012 you can apply to be an ambassador by January 7 on www.londonambassadors.org.uk.