Nunhead Knocks Initiative

An initiative started by Peckham WI member Claire Sheppard

Claire Sheppard, founder of Nunhead WI and now a member of Peckham WI is one of the creators of "Nunhead Knocks", a community-based, all-volunteer organisation, working within the Nunhead, Peckham, and Queens Road (London) areas connecting people in need of assistance due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

"Nunhead Knocks" was started by a handful of people local to Nunhead who had skills in tech, community connections and backgrounds in organising who wanted to find a way to help the many people in the neighbourhood who have been affected by the virus.

Claire had been an admin on the community group "Nunhead Rocks" for 4-5 years already, which is where the name came from. As soon as the Coronavirus crisis started, Claire thought it would be a good idea if people who are self-isolating could be matched with very local people – ideally in their street.

Claire says:

It struck me that you might not want to say “I need help” on a Facebook group and have some random person show up. If you could be matched up with someone you recognise because they live across the street that would be a lot more reassuring.

Through "Nunhead Rocks", Claire already knew that there was a community of about 5,500 kind people who could help each other out. Claire used the "Nunhead Rocks" network on Facebook to begin asking for help with the "Nunhead Knocks" Coronavirus initiative.

Within 24 hours of posting on the "Nunhead Rocks" Facebook page, Claire had received an offer from a local woman called Charlie to help build a website. After 36 hours, Claire was so overwhelmed with volunteers that she took Charlie up on her offer who built the "Nunhead Knocks" website.

The help that "Nunhead Knocks" offers is based on Claire’s personal experience of having cancer four years ago and being isolated at home. Her top priorities at the time were to make sure she had food in the house, her dog got walked and she had people to talk to. "Nunhead Knocks" started with those three areas but they have over 1,450 volunteers with a whole range of skill sets. Some examples of the people they have matched include:

  • A woman who is over 65, blind, and worried about getting food she normally gets from a local cafe that is now closed, with a volunteer to help her get meals
  • An oncologist whose local tube station had closed and needed to borrow a car to get to work, to someone who loaned them a car
  • A woman who told volunteers that she has no children or friends, so feels very alone while self-isolating, to a volunteer who will chat with her regularly
  • A local pharmacy to volunteers to help them deliver prescriptions directly

Even if you are self-isolating but want to volunteer, there are roles you can undertake such as phoning neighbours and administration of the initiative.

Claire would love to spread this model not just in London but nationwide. If anyone thinks they can help, please get in touch via the website:

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