We recently asked our social media followers to tell us their favourite volunteer role and the responses were as rich and varied as the volunteering opportunities available at parkrun every week! We loved hearing how positive people feel after lending a hand on a Saturday morning, and that many of you are learning new skills, forming friendships and becoming more confident as a result of pulling on the high-vis orange bibs.
This says a lot when you think that more than half a million different people around the world have volunteered at parkrun since 2004!
In addition to the 500,000 people who have helped out at parkrun events over the past 15 years,there is another way to get involved as a volunteer. Behind the scenes, a group of parkrun volunteers are dedicated to supporting our high-vis heroes on the ground. They develop new parkrun events, assist existing events and help parkrun achieve its mission of creating a healthier and happier planet. These wonderful individuals are parkrun Ambassadors.
The parkrun ambassador program began in Australia in 2017 with the creation of the Event Ambassador and Runner Support Ambassador roles. Further specialist ambassador roles have since come on board in Social Media, Photography and Video, Tech Support, Grants, Regional, Outreach and the Critical Incident Line. Each role plays an important part in helping event day volunteers, walkers, joggers and runners – being an ambassador is an exciting way to get involved in volunteering outside of your regular weekend events.
What do the ambassadors actually do?
Our largest group and perhaps most visible are our Event Ambassadors. They are experienced volunteers who have previously been Event Directors or Run Directors who provide support, friendship, guidance and act as a role model for new and existing parkrun events.
If you’ve submitted a query through the parkrun site at any time during the past three years, you’ll have been assisted by one of three incredible Runner Support Ambassadors who look after the incoming queries on a rotational basis, in their spare time.
Social Media Ambassadors help capture, write and share content across parkrun Australia’s social media channels. Many of the posts you see on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and the articles you read in the weekly newsletter, are created by or crafted in collaboration with these ambassadors.
Photography and Video Ambassadors work in a similar vein to the Social Media team, creating photographic and video content to share across our networks. At 17 years of age, Charlie Butler is the youngest ambassador in Australia and he brings his exuberance and enthusiasm to the role. Charlie is motivated by the knowledge that the projects he works on can potentially help change lives.
“It’s just such an awesome thing that we’re able to contribute by helping to promote parkrun to people. Even if it’s just a small video, if it gets someone to give parkrun a go, that’s just such an amazing thing to be a part of.”
Tech Support Ambassadors are the IT crowd on hand to help event teams with any unexpected tech results issues that pop up. While tech-based, the wonderful support this team provides goes beyond asking callers whether they’ve tried turning the computer off and on again and making sure it’s plugged in at the wall.
Grant Ambassadors play a key role in keeping parkrun free for everyone forever, and more specifically in helping parkrun grow. Funding rounds are highly competitive and grant applications are often time-consuming and require specialist knowledge and writing skills.
Regional Ambassadors are a more recent addition to the programme. The Regional Ambassador role is integral in ensuring Event Ambassadors are given the tools, information and guidance they need to allow them, in turn, to provide support to event teams. There are currently eight Regional Ambassadors in Australia supporting around 80 Event Ambassadors across the country.
Outreach Ambassadors take an active role in promoting the wide variety of ways that people can become involved in parkrun, with a specific focus on increasing participation amongst groups who are underrepresented at our events.
Critical Incident Line Ambassadors act as the first response for any serious incidents at events through a dedicated telephone line.
Who are the people behind these roles, and what does it take to be a parkrun ambassador?
Ambassadors, just like most parkrunners, also have lives outside of parkrun and they come from all walks of life. Among the current ambassador team we have an apprentice boilermaker, high school student, quality and compliance coordinator, retiree, research scientist, clinical nurse educator and pilot, builders, small business owners, truck drivers, teachers and public servants, to name only a few. The diversity of ambassador backgrounds and interests is a major strength and an asset to the parkrun community.
Anyone who has volunteered at a parkrun event knows how rewarding it is. The benefits of volunteering as an ambassador are equally gratifying. Meeting new people and being inspired by the event teams and other parkrunners ranks highly among ambassadors as a key benefit of their roles.
The program is open to everyone. If you’re looking for a fulfilling way to volunteer at parkrun, an opportunity to learn new skills and to have some fun, why not submit an expression of interest today?
We currently are seeking:
Tasmania – Northern Tasmania
Victoria – Melbourne West, Melbourne North
Queensland – Gold Coast
ACT – all areas
NSW – Far Northern
Photography and Video Ambassadors
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