How do we match our volunteers?

July 2, 2020
Take me back to the blog

Fifty people on phones! Some 20 people are making matches! Over 30 zone coordinators ready to go! So exciting… but what the heck are they all DOING?

As you know, the main focus of Nunhead Knocks is to help people who need support during the COVID-19 crisis by connecting them with community members who can assist. We have over 1,500 people signed up to shop for groceries, pick up prescriptions, walk dogs, or just talk to someone who’s lonely. We even have some folks who are actively volunteering online while in self-isolation and receiving assistance from someone else doing their shopping!

In an ideal world, the 1,500 people who have volunteered to help would never be needed. But we all know that this is likely to get worse before it gets better, so it’s great to have so many of you ready to go. 

To date, we’ve matched around 150 requests for support with a neighbour, so many of you volunteers are still waiting to be activated. We’ve prioritised matching people with their nearest neighbours are able to help, so please be patient if you haven’t been contacted yet.

Over the last few weeks, a dedicated group of volunteers has given lots of time and energy into ironing out the matching system. We thought it would be useful to give you an update on the ‘back end’ if you will - how we’re matching people needing support with people who can help.

It all starts with a request for support

We all need to lean on each other right now, so we’ve made it easy to reach out.

Anyone needing assistance can put in a request for support by either calling the phone line on 02074594428, emailing, or submitting a request through our web form

If people call on the phone, their call is answered in person by one of 50 Communications Monitors working in shifts from 6am to midnight. Other Comms Monitors check the email address regularly. They then take the information about the request and enter it into the web form at

This request is then automatically entered into a central database. This database has limited access to only those who absolutely need to see it, and they will have read our privacy policy. We take data protection seriously.

Our Matching Champions

Around 20 Matching Champions and Specialists are monitoring the database for oncoming cases. They’re making sure that emergency cases are flagged for quick action, and cases involving particularly vulnerable people are handled by Specialists who have a background in working with vulnerable people. 

Right now, only the Matching Champions and Specialists are actually making matches. Starting next week, standard cases that don’t involve vulnerable people or emergencies will be passed down to the hyperlocal Zone Coordinators. They will match up folks within their zone covering a few streets.  

When anyone makes a match, they call the person who has made the request to make sure that they have the right information and learn more about their needs. The Matcher also asks the requester for a passcode word that will be shared only with the volunteer helper, and will allow the requester to know it’s a legitimate connection made by Nunhead Knocks.

The matcher then identifies a nearby volunteer who said that they are willing and able to meet that kind of request from the database list, and gets in touch to see if they’re still available and able to help.

Once everyone’s happy with the match, the two are connected to each other.

That’s when the real magic happens: groceries are delivered, prescriptions picked up, dogs walked, lovely conversations had, and hopefully lifelong friendships formed!

Getting involved in your area

If you haven’t heard from us about supporting a neighbour in your area, it might be because there haven’t been many requests or those that have come through need specialist support.

However, there are a lot of people who don’t know about Nunhead Knocks and the support their neighbours are giving, or are nervous about reaching out for aid. Our number one priority is getting the word out to our neighbours that we are a safe place and we can and want to support each other.

Join us on Zoom Saturday 3 April at 4pm to develop an action plan for reaching the most vulnerable and those without internet.

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