Rosterfy Case Study: Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

Director of Workforce and Volunteering for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, Andy Newman reflects on the most successful volunteer program in the history of the Games.

Director of Volunteers and Workforce for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, Andrew Newman reflects on the 'best volunteer program in Games history' and how they worked alongside Rosterfy to achieve such greatness. 


In July and August 2022, Birmingham hosted the 22nd Commonwealth Games, the largest multi-sport event ever held in the West Midlands and the largest in England since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.  Over 1.5 million spectators enjoyed the thousands of world-class athletes, yet it was the 14,000 volunteers - the ‘Commonwealth Collective’ - who became the unheralded heroes and recognised as one of the key successes to such a spectacular Games. 

Birmingham 2022 were planned and delivered in the most exceptional circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The sustained impact created a hugely challenging environment to attract, recruit, retain, and train the 50,000 workforce members required to deliver the Games. 

To do so we implemented never before seen approaches to help overcome and deliver what’s been recognised as the best Volunteer Programme in Commonwealth Games history.  

Video: Snapshot of volunteers and their experience at B22 

Due to the pandemic, we had arguably never been more physically disconnected.  We recognised Birmingham 2022 offered a beacon of light, which we used as our north star to create a volunteer vision to not just connect thousands of people through the power of sport, but to unite a team of individuals who were going to be on the global stage. Birmingham 2022 was never just about two weeks of sport: it was designed as the Games for Everyone. 

Four objectives underpinned our efforts:

  • Local impact: Our volunteer workforce was to represent all host communities.
  • Diversity, Inclusion and Equality: Deliver a 2022 Games that truly encompassed the world in one city and region.
  • Excellence in execution: Attract, recruit, train and deliver the right number of volunteers at the right time to meet Games requirements.
  • Legacy: Use the inspiration of B2022 to bring tens of thousands of people closer to training and employment. 

With Rosterfy as our workforce system of choice, the Volunteer Programme was launched 14 months before the Games started. It was the first of any Games initiative to be unveiled to the public, and as a result it was crucial to set the tone and standard by which the Organising Committee was going to deliver the Games.  Following an effective regional and national marketing campaign and months of concerted public engagement, with local authorities, educational institutions, Games partners, and hundreds of community organisations and forums, 41,686 applicants completed the volunteer registration process.

Commonwealth Games Stats Summary (3)

Image: Snapshot of B22 volunteer program using Rosterfy

As the country adjusted to a new (pandemic) norm, we leaned into three important factors:

  1. We recognised every engagement opportunity including all e.communications, and in person experiences were to be crucial as we sought to create and retain a united team of 14,000 people.  
  2. The end-2-end volunteer journey had to be intuitive and seamless, utilising the functionality of Rosterfy to help empower each volunteer to ‘own’ their experience.
  3. An innovative approach was imperative to account for and adapt to the new environment, while seeking to further enhance the volunteer experience.

A comprehensive sifting process of registrants assured every local applicant was invited to the Volunteer Selection Centre (VSC) which instigated the first of many steps resulting in the most diverse volunteer team for any Commonwealth Games. 

The Library of Birmingham provided the optimal ‘home’ for the VSC and a critical first in-person contact point, creating a memorable experience for all 21,000+ people who were interviewed. 

The team of approximately 450 volunteer interviewers (seen below in their blue B2022 polos), became the foundation of the programme and epitomised Maya Angelou’s quote which was the bedrock value of everyone’s efforts.  “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”    

New innovative approaches never seen before for a multi-sports Games included: 

  • The delivery of a global online orientation broadcast which not only brought all volunteers virtually together, but also unveiled Games uniform to the public and media, alongside laying out the important steps to Games time.
  • A transformed training programme for all workforce members (recognising for so long, so many had worked remotely from home) to help establish the vital venue team relationships with Organising Committee staff colleagues and volunteers.
  • The delivery of over 200,000 Games uniform items direct to volunteer homes.  Combined with the orientation broadcast this removed the time and expense of every volunteer needing to travel to Birmingham twice. 
  • The most comprehensive contractor integration programme in Commonwealth Games history, instilling one-team principles, adding crucial resiliency to recruitment efforts, and incorporation into the Games ‘recognition’ programme.  These efforts were all part of successful efforts which ensured 40,000 local people moved closer to training and employment opportunities.  

The legacy these Games will leave for Birmingham and the region will last for years to come.  With half of the UK’s population sharing they watched, followed online or took part in a Birmingham 2022 event, the Games brought a national and global spotlight to the region.

The 14,000 members of the Commonwealth Collective in their in-famous Balti-orange uniforms championed the diversity of the region and helped set the stage welcoming more than 5 million people to the city during the two-week period beginning 25th July. 

Over 99% of volunteers felt especially proud to have volunteered, with the vast majority sharing they felt a greater connection to their local community following their involvement in the Games. 

The legacy of these volunteers will carry on, as Games organisers continue to build on the positive momentum through the continued partnering with Rosterfy and the creation of a matching platform.  In doing so not only will members of the Commonwealth Collective have direct links to ongoing future opportunities but help preserve the core of the volunteer team and the beating heart of the Birmingham 2022 Games.   

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