The positive repercussions from hosting the greatest show on earth will be felt across the UK’s capital for generations to come.
The regeneration of East London and particularly Stratford, the site of the Olympic Park, will bring untold benefits to the area and the local communities that live there.
The Olympic Park will be transformed into the Queen Elizabeth Country Park, and the permanent venues within it will bring new leisure facilities to the area. The increased focus on the area brought by the Games coupled with an improvement in transport links and the new shopping centre next to the Park will bring greater visitor numbers and continued investment to the borough.Getty
Permanent venues such as the Velodrome and the Aquatics centre will not only offer affordable facilities to encourage residents of the capital to get involved in sporting activities, they will also have the facilities to host world-class events. These will attract further tourism to London providing an ongoing boost for businesses operating in the capital.
The sporting legacy created by the Games will also have a lasting impact on the capital and its residents. London 2012 has generated a lot of interest in sport and a number of initiatives are already in place to capitalise on the enthusiasm generated and encourage people to get involved.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson described how London must continue the momentum created by the Games to secure a lasting legacy for the capital. “We can secure a transport, housing, infrastructure, sporting, cultural and social legacy from these Games and turn these Games to gold for decades to come,” he added.
Drawing inspiration from the extensive regeneration work taking place inside the Olympic Park, the initial concept for the “Changing Places” programme was to alleviate social and environmental problems around the main Games site by inspiring local people living in the local host boroughs to improve their own neighbourhoods.
As well as tackling these important issues, the programme would also help to ensure that local people were more involved in the development of the Games and felt ownership of what was happening on their doorstep. If it worked, the programme could generate real change for many people and extend the impact of the Games far beyond summer 2012.
The three core objectives for the Changing Places programme were:
- To inspire communities to improve public places – for example, parks, open spaces and watersides;
- To enable people to learn new interests and skills; and
- To improve the quality of the local environment around London 2012 venues and beyond, creating long-lasting change.
When London bid to host the Games of the XXX Olympiad, one of its commitments was to put young people at the heart of the Games and inspire a generation to choose sport. One programme took an innovative approach to youth engagement.
“For young people, by young people,” is how Ian Cawley from sports education charity Youth Sport Trust (YST) describes the Young Ambassadors initiative, which was set up by YST, with support from the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG), the British Olympic Foundation (BOF), British Paralympic Association (BPA), government departments and, more recently, a private sponsor: adidas.
The programme’s core activity is to develop the talents of a number of outstanding 15-19 year olds within schools around the UK. Potential Young Ambassadors are selected for their sporting talent and/or outstanding commitment and ability as young leaders or volunteers.
Fundamental to the programme’s philosophy is the belief that young people are often much better than adults at communicating with and inspiring each other. Consequently, once they have received their training, each Young Ambassador becomes a role model for their peers.
Their three tasks are:
- To promote London 2012 in their schools and communities.
- To use the inspiration of London 2012 to increase participation in sport and physical education (PE) among their peers.
- To promote and live out the Olympic and Paralympic values: respect, friendship, personal excellence, courage, determination, inspiration and equality.
Thanks to this peer-to-peer approach, in 2012, there were 11,000 Young Ambassadors around the UK, who have encouraged many thousands more to take up sport and incorporate the Olympic values into their lives.
Games-time catering represents a huge challenge for every host city. However, the importance attached to food – and in particular, the decision by LOCOG to create a dedicated “Sustainable Food Vision” – was something that set the 2012 Games apart from its predecessors.
LOCOG’s aim was not simply to ensure that the catering ran smoothly; they wanted to do it in a way that inspired every person who ate at a Games venue; and they wanted to improve the local food industry and leave a lasting, positive legacy post-Games. The ethos underpinning their Food Vision was a “tastier, healthier, greener Games”.
Following LOCOG’s publication of its Food Vision in December 2009, the Mayor of London’s Office issued a press release to say that it would adopt the London 2012 food standards and ensure that the sustainability requirements were included in all future contracts. The Mayor of London’s Office is responsible for one of the largest public sector purchasers and consumers of food in London, with approximately 30,000 employees across hundreds of sites, consuming hundreds of thousands of meals each week. This commitment was the first of its kind across such a significant UK body. From 2012, it means that Greater London Authority (GLA) staff and visitors will be guaranteed healthier, more environmentally sustainable food produced to higher animal welfare standards.
What does a fire and rescue service 300 kilometres away from the Olympic Park in London have to do with the 2012 Games? The answer lies in an innovative approach to community engagement, which is catching on around the UK.
Fire Fit is the brainchild of the Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS), a regional fire service operating 26 community fire stations for 1.4 million people living in and around the city of Liverpool. A London 2012 Inspire Mark winning project, Fire Fit aims to build “safer and stronger communities” through a diverse programme of grassroots sporting, cultural and health-related activities. These are organised and run by members of the MFRS fire service together with a network of partners.
Initiatives include building a family-oriented assault course, bringing “cage football” and mobile climbing walls onto inner-city estates, staging community theatre productions in local fire stations and organising sport “summer fun days” – designed to encourage community cohesion and promote public health and safety. As well as bringing people together and encouraging them to live healthier, more active lives, Fire Fit has also benefited the emergency services. The MFRS’s evaluation reports suggest that there has been a reduction in fire- and police-related incidents in those areas where Fire Fit has engaged with the local community, especially with young people.