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Volunteer Update- September 2021

Welcome to the monthly volunteer update for September

Welcome to the monthly volunteer update for September. The eagle eyed among you will have noticed that we have missed out August - from now on the volunteer update is now going to be published at the start of the month and then circulated through our channels throughout the following month.

Since we last wrote, we’re delighted to welcome events back in Wales and Scotland, plus more events from across Europe and North America. We know that things remain difficult in various locations around the world, not least in parts of Australia, South Africa and Asia and our thoughts are with all events who are currently unable to put on an event on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

As always, we would really love you to take a look around the Volunteer Hub, where you’ll find all that you need to know about volunteering at parkrun. You can read more about our guiding principles for volunteering here and learn about the different roles that are required for parkrun events.

In addition, the parkrun Safeguarding Hub contains everything you need to know about safeguarding children and vulnerable adults at parkrun events.

AEDs (Defibrillators)

We are very proud that every 5k and junior event in the UK, Ireland, Australia and Japan has access to an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) within 5 minutes of their finish line.

Recently we have made a change to our policy relating to the availability of the event AED. Previously, if when carrying out the pre-event setup, the team found that the AED was not available or not in working order, the event could go ahead as long as the situation had been risk assessed and Run Directors had informed the participants of the lack of an AED in the First Timers and Pre-Event Briefings.

On review, we feel that this puts the event team in a very difficult position and have now changed the policy. If when carrying out the pre-event setup and checking the AED, the team finds that it is not available or in working order, the event must be cancelled. This change removes the pressure and responsibility for a decision from the team, and places it solely with parkrun Head Office.

We would also like to take this opportunity to remind teams that they should mention the whereabouts of the defibrillator in their pre-event brief and ensure that it is detailed in your risk assessment and on your H&S lanyards.

Scanning & Timing in the rain

With all timing and scanning now being carried out on smartphones via the parkrun Virtual Volunteer App, it’s important to be prepared for all sorts of weather, not least heavy rain, which can produce ‘ghost’ times or scans when hitting the phone screen.

There’s several different solutions to this issue. First of all is to simply use a big umbrella to shield the phone from the rain. Alternatively many teams have ordered waterproof pouches that the phone can be placed inside, and then operate through the plastic covering. A more basic, but possibly equally effective method is to use a small see-through plastic freezer bag, and operate the phone with your whole hand inside the bag.

You can also use the volume controls on your headphones for your smartphone to click each parkrunner through the finish, thus being able to store your phone in your pocket whilst timing.

A final tip for Timers is to close the App after you have started the timing function, so that you don’t accidentally record times before the first runners come to the finish. The stopwatch still runs in the background, so as soon as you reopen the App again, it is waiting for you to start clicking the runners over the finish line.

Providing feedback if there's any issues with your phone for scanning/timing using the Virtual Volunteer

Whilst the vast majority of phones work perfectly with the Virtual Volunteer App, we’re aware that there are issues with a small number of phone models. (It is important to distinguish here between makes of phone and specific models).
From the feedback we are receiving, we are continuously working with the developers of the Virtual Volunteer App to find solutions to issues that come up, and future releases of the App will help to address them.

If you experience an issue with your smartphone whilst scanning or timing, we would be very grateful if you can inform us about it using the short parkrun support form. Please try to be as specific as possible, including the make and model of the phone and exactly the issue that you experienced. Please also include the version of the Virtual Volunteer App you are using (can be found by tapping the cog at the top right of the screen). If possible, try and ‘recreate’ the issue. For example, any phone App might very occasionally crash and close itself down, but we would want to know if this was a recurring issue that was specifically happening to the Virtual Volunteer App.

Meet Sutton Lawn volunteer Gemma

“In the spirit of breaking out of my comfort zone in the run up to the big 4-0, I was Run Director at Sutton Lawn junior parkrun this morning for the first time.”

Thanks for reading, we will be back again next month. Until then, wherever you are in the world, stay safe, keep active, and if you’re close to a parkrun event that’s open - see you at the weekend.

James Kemop