28 October 2022

How it works: the volunteer program service

From July 8 to 17, 2023, the World Para Athletics Championships – PARIS’23 will be in full swing. To best organize this event, an organizing committee was set up in April 2022. But then, what are the different poles of this organization? What are its basic missions? During the whole month of October, we tell you everything! So come and discover the many facets that make up the Organizing Committee of the World Paralympic Athletics Championships (COMAP).

For this last service presentation, we met Laure Fornetran, in charge of the volunteer program service.

Hello Laure, to begin with, can you explain to us what is the role of the volunteer program department within COMAP?

Laure Fornetran : “The volunteer program has three objectives. First, to be useful to the organizer by having the right number of volunteers in the right place, at the right time, with the right profile and the right level of training. Secondly, it aims to make the volunteers experience an adventure by creating optimal conditions to make them want to come and stay. This consists of creating a good state of mind, organizing activities and making sure that the missions assigned are suitable for those who accompany us. But also, by offering outfits, goodies and especially meals. And the last objective is to leave a lasting legacy to the French Handisport Federation and the different committees to motivate these volunteers to come back on other events.”

How many people are in the department?

L.F : “To manage this program, I am accompanied by Lola. Together, we have to find and accompany a total of 2,000 volunteers on the event. And to manage all this organization, we benefit from a collaboration with Qoezion, which allows us to centralize all the requests, but also to manage the schedules to set up, etc.”

What are the missions of the department?

L.F : “The program is divided into three phases over the year. Currently, we are still in the first stage, and we carry out all the communication and sourcing of entities (school, companies, communities …) that can provide profiles available on the event. We already have many applications, so we have to study them and conduct interviews with some candidates. This first phase ends at the end of January / beginning of February and will give way to the planning part.

With Lola, we will answer the first applications and plan everything that will happen during the event. During this second phase, we will take the opportunity to gather all the people who have already been validated in order to create a team cohesion, during a strong time planned in March.

And finally, in June, we switch to the mobilization phase with the possible training of volunteers. The first missions will start around mid-June for the installation and the assembly of the event. This will be followed by the mobilization for the ten days of competitions, then the dismantling.”

How does the team work?

L.F : “We work in pairs, sharing the tasks. It depends on the day, but we often do the same tasks together to move forward quickly, because time flies.”

What are the specificities or particularities of the service?

L.F : “What makes us unique is that we are a resource provider for the different services. Throughout the year, we interact with all the departments by talking to them to understand their needs and define the number of volunteers that will be available to them. In addition, we take care of all the scheduling, uniforms and so on, but once in the field, the volunteers are no longer our responsibility. They work with the departments to which they have been assigned.”

What qualities and skills are required?

I.C : “A lot of organization. We carry out various tasks such as communication, human relations, administration, training, etc. This requires versatility and it forces us to be very rigorous. It is also necessary to be creative to provide all the contents which will be sent and to organize the animations to be carried out.

We also have to be patient, because some information is not transmitted as we would like. And in some explanations, it may be that people understand more or less quickly if it is a first experience on certain missions for example. Therefore, it requires a very important sense of interpersonal skills.”

THE worst flaw for working in this department?

L.F : “The lack of relational skills. We don’t manage material but human beings. This makes things interesting, but it also makes them more complex. With humans, you have to take into account moods and personalities, and you can’t really anticipate them. This requires, sometimes, tact and diplomacy.”

THE situation to avoid on the day of the event?

L.F : “That not all the volunteers come, or that we cast poorly. But all of this can be avoided with the work we will do during the year.”