Mega sports volunteerism and transforming lives through student peer leadership and mentoring

The Centre for Volunteering and Community Leadership (CVCL) was developed in 1999 at the University of Central Lancashire. The CVCL exists to develop compassionate socially responsible graduates via delivery of research-informed social action and student knowledge exchange. This research aims to incorporate and address several of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

In 2010 Professor Alethea Melling was asked by the 2014 Winter Olympic Committee to create a plan and training programme for Olympic Volunteer Centres for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games. The concept of Volunteer Centres within universities was unheard of in the Russian Federation at the time. There was little knowledge around the recruitment, management and support of volunteers in Russia. Melling’s research led to the development of 26 centres Volunteer Centres within Russian universities. These centres mobilised 27,000 volunteers for the Sochi Games and a thriving volunteer movement developed in Russia after the games using this model. For the first time in the history of the Olympic movement, selecting and training Games volunteers was carried out through Volunteer Centres based at educational institutions. This was one of the most important legacies of the 2014 Winter Olympics according to the International Olympic Committee Report. Using the same model, 17,040 volunteers were recruited for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

The innovative student-mentoring and peer-leadership programmes based on the CVCL’s research have developed influential peer leaders and have educated and transformed the lives of thousands of children and young people in Pakistan, Oman and Zambia, as well as 900 orphans in Morocco. These innovations in peer-leadership programmes have also improved the life chances and world perspectives of 400 unaccompanied refugee children in Lesvos, Greece.

Research team