On Wednesday 29 July at 7pm, Nunhead Knocks will be holding a Town Hall meeting for anyone and everyone in the community to talk about the future of the organisation, how the committee should work - which will be renamed as the less hierarchical ‘steering group’ - and a big cheer for everything that’s happened so far.
As we approach this organisational turning point, three of our remaining committee members - Claire, Paddy and Charlie - look back on what they’ve enjoyed about being on the committee, challenges they’ve faced, and how they think the group should be structured in the future.
“I started Nunhead Knocks with a post on Nunhead Rocks and, initially, I think some volunteers came on board because they knew and trusted me. I wanted to make sure I was accountable by building a team of people who specialised in areas I didn’t, and do the most good with the hundreds of incredible volunteers who put their hands up to help their neighbours. The sheer volume of support we’ve been able to give to our community has blown my mind, and I’m amazed at what we can achieve when we work together.
“It’s been very hard juggling all the things I have going on in my life in lockdown. Having my 4-year-old son at home, trying to keep my business going, being a Green candidate and this - it’s a lot. It’s also been hard to objectively accept our limitations. There’s been initiatives that we haven’t been able to pull off and so many more things that we’d have loved to do, but keeping our volunteers safe is priority. Many of us who signed up to help steer this ship are fixers and want to make everything better. However, this has taught me the importance of trying to do fewer things and doing them well. We can only do so much and that’s okay. If only I could apply that to the rest of my life…
“The thing I’ve most enjoyed about being on the committee is the sheer capability of the people I’ve worked with and their sense of humour. With the exception of Amar, I didn’t know any of my colleagues in real life. For the first eight weeks, we Zoomed every single morning at 9am. They’ve seen me barely conscious with suspected COVID, they’ve laughed and cried and howled in despair along with me all through this crazy time. There were once nine of us but, in the last few weeks, we’ve slimmed down to four as life, work and demand for our services has changed. But I’ll never ever forget how, for every morning in April, I got to see these smiling, brilliant, kind, helpful people. I suspect some, along with so many brilliant volunteers, will be friends for the rest of my life.
“Looking forward, we must be more representative of the community we live in. We need fresh energy and drive, coupled with experience, to keep on keeping on with this group in a way that best serves our community. I’ll happily give up my spot to someone who will carry on the good work we‘ve been doing, but would also stay on to consult, if that’s what the community wants. I think that we have a structure in place and experience that, should a second wave of COVID-19 hit our community, we’ll be able to respond even more effectively. I feel more proud of this work we’ve done together than anything I’ve ever done before. Our kind community really makes me feel like we live in one of the best places on earth.”
“I moved in to my partner’s the night lockdown was announced. I was furloughed and she was very much still working full-time so, in a loving and helpful way, showed me a post from Nunhead Knocks looking for an Admin Exec/General Wizard to join the committee. Two days later, I was taking minutes in my first meeting and it all went from there.
“The challenges have all revolved around how quickly decisions have had to be taken. Nobody had experienced anything like this before, and we are all very much the type of people who want to say YES and help everyone immediately, but we also had to be mindful of building systems in a sustainable way. Running NunUnFed has been a huge highlight for me. I had the opportunity to coordinate a group of amazing chefs and drivers and build up relationships with wonderful people all over the community who benefited from our weekly meals.The thing I’ve enjoyed most about being on committee has been the ability to take feedback from volunteers and recipients on the ground and put it quickly into action.
“Going forward, I think the role of the committee should be more visible on the ground. By necessity (and law) we were all cooped up in our own homes for the first however many weeks of doing this – to the extent that most of us didn’t get to meet each other in person for the first two months despite working with each other on a daily basis! Since lockdown guidelines have been relaxed in England we’ve been able to do more organising in person, and I think it is notable how much more can be done in two hours when you are able to talk to people face-to-face, rather than over Zoom. I also think it is crucial for members of our community to be able to put names to our faces.”
“The committee developed quite naturally as, once we set up donations and the community gave so generously, we knew that, to manage the money and act legally under UK charity law, we had to create a formal, legal entity. We researched many options and decided that the best bet for Nunhead Knocks was to become an unincorporated charitable association. And with a HUGE thanks to Heather and John, a volunteer lawyer, the committee was born in mid-April.
“Before Nunhead Knocks, I wasn’t really involved in the community, aside from regular visits to the Old Nuns Head! It’s been inspiring to see how much people want to help. Being on the committee, you really get to know the area and it’s residents. I’ve made so many new friends and a real appreciation for where we live.
“There have definitely been differences of opinion on the priorities and approach we should take, and being part of the committee at such an uncertain and emotional time put a lot of stress on us. There’s a lot to think about - and quickly. We’ve tried our best to keep the community at heart, seek direction on our priorities, and work with other local groups to make data and human-led decisions. Currently, I’m most concerned that, as more folks return to work and ‘regular’ life, those that are affected long-term by COVID-19 will lose the support of Nunhead Knocks and other groups that heavily rely on volunteers.
"Which is why I’m incredibly excited about the next phase of Nunhead Knocks and the fresh energy and ideas that can come from a newly evolved steering group. The committee was formed by members who were privileged enough to volunteer full-time for the group in the early days, but that didn’t wholly represent the community we’re supporting. The Town Hall and Annual General Meeting will hopefully be an opportunity to bring more representation of different ethnicities, neurodiversity and socio-economic backgrounds to the steering group so we can better serve the community in the next phase of Nunhead Knocks. It’s been a truly amazing experience and I’m incredibly proud to have been a part of what this community has built."
Residents of Nunhead and Peckham share how lockdown impacted their mental health.
Anna explains how her team has served up over 1000 meals to people in the community, and shares one of her go-to recipes.