It’s Volunteers' Week and each day one of our amazing volunteers will share their experience of volunteering with Nunhead Knocks.
Alex, who is currently furloughed from his job in the charity sector, volunteers for Nunhead Knocks as an outreach coordinator. Here he explains how the role has given him a fresh sense of community and his hopes for a post-COVID-19 future.
“Like many people, I was put on furlough in April and wanted something to do, and after joining the mailing list, I saw a call-out saying Nunhead Knocks needed some help with flyering. I did a couple of rounds to start off with and then found myself doing more and more.
“I work for a charity, the Institute of Fundraising, which supports fundraisers in the charity sector and linking up charities is part of my job.
“Having worked mostly in infrastructure – supporting the charities and their staff – I was particularly keen to experience more people-facing volunteering and have really enjoyed the more active street-level side of things.
“There are two strands to my role. The first is trying to get the word out to people who don’t have internet access, via street leafletting, flyering, posters and more, and managing a team of volunteers who help with this outreach. It’s very time-intensive because, even though we are only doing SE15, that’s a large space with a lot of high-density areas. You could spend all day doing a couple of housing blocks.
“The second side is more ad-hoc and it involves working with other community groups and charities to see how we can best collaborate together. For example, we deliver food and other supplies to Westminster House Youth Club because they have access to people in their network who need help.
“We're providing supplies to Refugee Solidarity SE London, who in turn are supporting Catford Fridge Station, Lewisham Churches for Asylum Seekers (LewCAS), World of Hope, Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network and the Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers (SDCAS). We have also helped SDCAS directly with food packages and supplies
“We've just starting working with London Rainbow and Hubbub Community Calling to collect old phones and devices and distribute them to people in the community – both to individuals and through local organisations. There area number of other groups and services we have helped with ad-hoc requests and we will continue to do so in future.
“I have lived in Nunhead for three-and-a-bit years, and I have just really enjoyed throwing myself into Nunhead Knocks. However, it has also been a real eye-opener. I thought I knew a lot about Peckham and Nunhead but this has taught me there’s so much that I wasn’t aware of, including the incredible work carried out by so many people in so many small organisations within the community.
“Like all of London, there are pockets of huge deprivation and inequality in this area. Being a proper community member is not just about supporting local businesses and eating out at nice restaurants, it’s volunteering time and energy because our community needs the support.
“The huge outpouring of support, volunteering and donations that Nunhead Knocks has been able to leverage is incredible, and I really hope we can find a sustainable way of doing that in the future. This has proved to me that neighbours helping neighbours is a valid and effective way of supporting people. It doesn’t have to be really official and top-down, it can be very grass roots.”
Nunhead Knocks is working with, and providing support to, a wide range of organisations, including other local mutual aid groups, refugee support organisations, foodbanks, youth clubs, organisations for older people, employment projects and many more. We are keen to hear and learn from others working in the community, so please let us know if you have any suggestions for groups or individuals we should reach out to.
Committee members Claire, Paddy and Charlie look back on their time in the group and how it should be structured in the future.
Residents of Nunhead and Peckham share how lockdown impacted their mental health.