Not knowing your neighbours is typical of being in a city. I hope Nunhead Knocks has changed that

June 25, 2020
Take me back to the blog

It’s Volunteers' Week and each day one of our amazing volunteers will share their experience of volunteering with Nunhead Knocks.

Art teacher and Nunhead resident of 30 years, Nick Cobb, talks about becoming a Nunnhead Knocks ‘Matching Master’, staying creative in lockdown and an exciting arrival this summer.

It started with a phone upgrade

I got involved with Nunhead Knocks very early on, though I can’t remember exactly how! I think I noticed it mentioned on the Nunhead Rocks Facebook group... I do remember thinking that, after lockdown was announced, there are going to be a lot of people who need assistance with things like shopping, and started to keep an eye out for how I could help.

Nunhead Knocks then put out a call for volunteers who had Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certificates - which I have - to be ‘Matching Masters’. The role involves finding volunteers to help requesters and, as I was put on furlough from my job teaching art and photography at Putney School of Art, I had the time. However, I only had a pay as you go phone making, on average, two calls a week. So, I got a basic giffgaff contract and started making a great many calls!

The first few weeks were quite intense, and we had lots of calls coming in about prescriptions, food banks and shopping. With some local individuals, I did the shopping or prescription pickups myself and I’m still doing three of these, very happily.

After a few weeks, things settled down and a rota was drawn up. Many of the requests now are for food parcels and I pass that on to Paddy and the team distributing them - it’s remarkable what they are doing.

The spirit of Nunhead Knocks

I have met and spoken to many people who I would never have encountered before. Not knowing your neighbours is typical of being in a city and I’d like to believe that all the volunteering everyone has done around Nunhead and Peckham will have some lasting impact. One day I might need help after all.

Nunhead Folk Circle playing during the NHS clap

Just recently, we had a request for help installing a washing machine. I initially doubted that we could do much but, after finding out the requestor didn’t have easy access to the internet to find someone herself, I thought I should search for a local handyman and found someone on Nextdoor. The handyman went and did the job, refusing payment. That’s the kind of thing the spirit of Nunhead Knocks has made happen.

Walks,self-portraits and a baby on the way

I grew up in southeast London and have lived in Nunhead for thirty years, and Peckham before that. My kids have grown up here and I worked in the local primary school providing art classes. Through that and the Nunhead Art Trail (which I help organise), I feel we have a strong and creative community.

Being furloughed means I’ve being able to go on a lot more walks with my partner than normal. She can identify most bird song and plants so it's very pleasurable. I’ve also been making photographic self-portraits as there weren’t many other subjects available. They were a kind of visual diary, starting on Valentine’s Day and ending in early May with me growing a moustache and putting my head under the ceiling lamp shade. I had to stop at that point. Now I am making a sculptural model about Evelina Road that may come to something.

Nick's self-portrait with a lamp shade @nickcobbphotography

I am going to be a grandfather in August which has been the best news through this terrible time. My son (the father-to-be) lives in Reykjavik so we have booked a flight to visit in mid-September. But will we get there this year? Will we be able to hold and hug him? I really hope so.

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