"10 weeks ago I did something that’s usually ill-advised. I watched Question Time.
“I heard the former head of Public Health England explicitly tell communities to prepare and get organised to face what was to come. And I listened, and it resonated with the part of me that had been supported by my community throughout a difficult period four years ago, when, shortly after my son was born in 2016, I discovered I had cancer and had to isolate at home for several months.
“So, the next morning, I went on the best community page on Facebook - Nunhead Rocks - and asked my fellow admins if they’d mind me launching Nunhead Knocks, thinking I would be just a woman with a spreadsheet and maybe a small team, hooking people up with people to shop for them.
“That isn’t what happened.
“Amar, my friend from the Ivy House, jumped in immediately as did local residents, Charlie and Andy. We met the next day and hammered out the bones of the Nunhead Knocks website, which Charlie’s partner Tom built in a day. The other members of the committee – Kate, Heather, Louise, Clive and Paddy - were all up to their eyeballs in Nunhead Knocks by the following weekend.
“By the time lockdown began, more than 1,000 volunteers had signed up and delivered over 10,000 leaflets to help get the word out. At this point, we realised this was a little bit bigger than we’d originally expected - it was time to get VERY organised and use this opportunity to build the best safety net for our community we possibly could.
“The committee of Nunhead Knocks is made up of 9 Nunhead and Peckham residents who have dedicated themselves to this full-time (and beyond) since week one. Our specialisms include community activism, market research, politics, running charities, design, management, IT, data protection, safeguarding, trade unionists, entrepreneurs, scribes, project management and purveyors of cake.
“We only recently stopped having daily hour long Zoom calls, having finally got a pretty solid framework in place, for what has become a huge community team of local residents who are on standby to help their neighbours and actively committed to help where they can. It’s never been about any single individual, or cause or viewpoint beyond giving support to those who ask for it however we can. It’s been a MASSIVE collective effort carried out by our matching champions and our 1,800 volunteers and we are so, so grateful for each and every one of you who has helped us get to where we are today. A place where the ties that bind us now will help us through the weeks and months ahead.
“Here are 10 highlights from 10 weeks of Nunhead Knocks -thank you for confirming my belief that this is the best community on earth to be part of.” - Claire
Through NunUnFed, we have delivered more than 650 cooked meals to vulnerable people in our communities. Recipients told us how nice it was to have a treat and that having a delicious meal has really lifted their spirits, making them feel genuinely supported and cared about. A massive shout out to Anne Hargreaves, Paddy Holt and Andy Burnett who have coordinated an army of cooks and drivers to provide meals to those in need. We have also been providing regular food parcels to Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers. Plus, our volunteers have supported Age UK Southwark and Senior Social to deliver dozens more meals not included in this total.
We have a phone system in place manned by volunteers seven days a week, from 9am-10pm, as well as a phone befriending system for people who might be feeling lonely. We also have a team of volunteers who are solely focusing on help requests and matching them up with the right local volunteers, which has allowed us to respond to nearly 700 individual requests for help on the website and phone lines. From isolating families needing a top-up shop, to pharmacies needing help delivering prescriptions, to those just needing a chat, we’re so pleased to have been able to help so many members of our community. Although there’s been a disappointingly small amount of dogs that need walking...
Our incredible street team of over 25 volunteers has been pounding the pavements to help us get the word out about how Nunhead Knocks can help the community. Since lockdown started, over 15,000 leaflets have been dispatched across SE15 and the team has got creative with bus stop and lamppost signs, billboards, and chalk graffiti. We’ve even had volunteers make banners out of bedsheets! This outreach has been critical in helping us reach those who do not have access to the internet, and has enabled us to help so many people, including a lovely lady who told us: “I was stressed about not being able to pick up my prescription, then I remembered the leaflet that came through my door and called you. I’m very grateful for your help!”
At the start of the lockdown, Nunhead Knocks took over The Green in Nunhead to coordinate food donations and leafleting and, not long later, at The Yard Peckham too. Since then, Nunhead Knocks has set up 7 more donation stations where locals can donate food and other items. Our donation stations have received an epic amount of donations and enabled us to deliver over 50 essential food parcels to vulnerable families, so a big thank you to all who donated - we really appreciate it.
We’ve been bowled over by the support we’ve received from nearly 40 local businesses who have given their space, people, equipment and time to support their neighbours via Nunhead Knocks. A big shout out to Babette and Braizen Kitchen, who have been cooking meals for Westminster Youth House Club every week; to The Yard, The Green and The Waverley Arms who have offered up their space for donation points; to 28 Well Hung who have helped with flyering and leafleting efforts as well as background support; to Good Cup who have been supplying boxes for food parcels; and to everyone else who have helped spread the word in store and on social media!
So far, we’ve raised over £9,000 which has enabled us to deliver meals to people who need it, buy food and shopping for families needing financial support, get gas and electricity meters topped up and deliver much needed food supplies in bulk to Westminster House Youth Club. A big shout out to our amazing fundraisers, including local residents Ian and May who have currently raised over £800 for Nunhead Knocks by climbing Everest on their stairs. Read our interview with Ian and May for an insight into why they decided to take on this challenge, and how they are hoping to help the community.
So far we’ve helped some amazing charities and community groups including Westminster House Youth Club, who we’ve been helping with bulk food shops for their network; Refugee Solidarity SE London, who we’ve been providing essential supplies to (and who in turn are helping a number of other local charities); Body and Soul who we’ve helped source furniture and other items for one of their users; and London Rainbow who we’re helping to collect phones and tablets for people who are isolated. Our intention is to continue to support local charity and voluntary groups as much as we can, offering our support wherever we can make a difference
Our 1,800 volunteers have offered up their skills, experience and enthusiasm to help our community through Nunhead Knocks. With such a broad array of expertise on hand, we’ve been able to put in place teams to manage a whole host of areas including community outreach, foodbank collections, fundraising, accounts, legal issues, safeguarding, health and safety, IT, marketing, and social media. This has enabled us to set up safe financial systems, funding and fundraising, secure data, safeguarding guidelines, training and systems to protect our volunteers and those requesting support.
We have spoken to the BBC, The Telegraph, Evening Standard, The Sun, HuffPost, and local influencers to show what the Nunhead community has been up to. We have also been interviewed for a number of podcasts (including our own!)
Maintaining positivity and creativity during testing times is really important and our fun-loving Cheer Champions and other members of the community have leapt to the forefront to keep volunteers’ spirits up during lockdown by running regular quizzes, photography competitions, and Friday night virtual discos. We’ve also had our very own Elvis out fundraising during the Thursday night clap-alongs. Viva Las Nunhead!
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The biggest issue we face right now is getting people who need us. Here's how you can help spread the word!