A HUGE thanks to you for volunteering for this role!! Volunteering to receive the incoming calls and emails is not only a huge help to our community, it’s also something that can be done from home and could work around other things you need to do. You are now part of a supportive team of people who are helping us make sure no one is alone during the COVID-19 crisis.

Along with this document, there is an excellent FAQ section available for Comms Monitors that may answer some of your questions.

Comms Monitor Overview

The Nunhead Knocks phone line (0207 459 4428) and email account (help@nunheadknocks.com) will be receiving requests for help throughout the day and evening.

Your role is to answer these calls and pick up emails during your shift and enter the details into the Nunhead Knocks request support form so that we can ensure their needs are met by one of our volunteers. We have a team called Support Coordinators that will pick up the requests and assign them to local volunteers so it’s crucial that we have accurate and detailed information to give them.

If no one is available to answer the phone and the person calling leaves a message, their voicemail will be forwarded to the email account. We have agreed that if any emails or voicemails are received through the email account that we will call the person back to confirm details and let them know we have received their request.

Comms Monitors indicated that they have submitted the webform by including 'Submitted by [Name] NK Comms Monitor' into the notes section.

Once the request has been logged through the website it will flow down to a central database where a team of Support Coordinators will review the request and identify a suitable volunteer to meet the need. We try to use a volunteer that lives close by the person in need – most often in the same street.

If you need to relay urgency, more information or have any questions after taking a request for help, you can add these on our Slack channel for phone-volunteers for the Support Coordinators to pick up. More details on Slack below.

There is also a locked Slack channel called ‘Response-Allocated’ (Please ask for access if you don’t already have it) that automatically generates a ticket when webforms are allocated to Support Coordinators, if you need to speak to them about the request or ask for a follow up.

Comms Monitor Online Systems

Deputy.com Rota System - https://nunheadknocks.uk.deputy.com/#roster

  • When you first become a Comms Monitor, you will be sent an invite to our Deputy system which schedules our rotas and sends out SMS messages and emails alerting you when new shifts have become available - the first step is to supply your email and phone number in this system. Your phone number will be used to message you from the rota system and will be automatically set up to direct calls to you during your shift.

  • In Deputy you will see the shifts available and you select the one you want to do. You can also sign up for shifts via text or the Deputy App:

  • We also use Deputy to let you know of any updates or additional information you may need as a Comms Monitor. We recommend you check out the News Feed section when you start your shift:

  • If you have signed up for a shift but are now unable to donate this time, use the ‘Me’ section of the site to see all shifts allocated to you. Click on the shift you are unable to do, and click ‘Offer Shift’ and it will be allocated as empty and hopefully reassigned. Please note: until someone has picked up your cancelled shift, it will show allocated to yourself:

Mutual Aid SE15 Slack Channel - https://join.slack.com/t/mutualaidSE15

  • Once you have joined please contact the Comms Monitor Champion to ask to be added to the Phone-Volunteers and Request-Allocated channels. This is a place to ask questions of your fellow Comms Monitors, and to flag any urgent or unusual cases you receive.Mutual Aid SE15 Slack Channel - https://join.slack.com/t/mutualaidSE15

Privacy and Slack: We need to ensure that everyone’s privacy is protected when we’re taking calls and submitting webforms on their behalves when taking calls or responding to emails. With that in mind, we’ve agreed to the following:

  • Phone-volunteers Slack channel: if you need to post a message here regarding a requester (urgency or special need), we will keep these details non-identifiable. We will use first OR last name only and keep all personal details off the channel.

  • If follow up with another Comms Monitor or other volunteer is needed, we will send a private message with more details of the requester but still ensure that privacy is our primary concern.

  • If you have any questions about privacy and Comms Monitoring, please get in touch with the rest of the team to discuss.

Virtual Landline (VLL)

  • We use an online hosting service to transfer the Nunhead Knocks helpline to your phone (details taken from Deputy). We can also track incoming calls through this service, so check with the designated VLL Monitor via Slack if you have any questions during your shift.

Starting Your Shift

We’ve agreed that each shift will consist of four hours of manning the phones and the email account. This way, if you miss any calls you’ll see them appear as new messages in the inbox as voicemails.

The Comms Monitor schedule for the week will be posted to our Phone-Volunteers Slack channel. This is so you can see who had shifts prior/after your own, and to reflect that day's VLL monitor if you need any assistance in terms of the incoming calls.

You will find the details for the email inbox on the Deputy News Feed including the password. It’s a good idea to check the news feed when you start your shift as well, as there may be some new messages there. Please also check the phone-volunteers Slack channel, as the person who was scheduled prior to your shift may have some additional details for you.

When your shift starts, please sign into the email inbox and ensure there are no missed messages there. It should look like this, but there may be some messages that were missed or new voicemails that weren’t picked up overnight or from the previous shift that it will be your job to create a new request for:

If a request arrives by email please type the details into the website “Forms - New Request” section https://www.nunheadknocks.com/help. We register all details we can into this webform so that we can ensure consistency and get the details to the Support Coordinators as soon as possible.

  • We would like you to call back the person who has sent the email or left a voicemail, to ensure the details are correct and to let them know someone will be in touch with them shortly.

  • It is possible to hide your number by dialling 141 or #31# before entering the number you are calling. Please check with your phone provider for how to hide your number.

Once the details have been entered, you can mark the email as ‘Read’ and move it to the ‘Processed Requests’ folder so other Comms Monitors know they have been dealt with. Please don’t leave any mails in the Inbox in a ‘Read’ state - either move them to the ‘Processed Requests’ folder or mark them as ‘Unread’ so someone can deal with them later.

The phone line will automatically transfer to your phone for the duration of your shift. There is no need to log into Deputy to start your shift.

This is the number 020 7459 4428 you will see on your phone. Please use this basic guidance when answering the call:

1. “Good morning/afternoon/evening. You have reached Nunhead Knocks, this is [your name] speaking; how can we help”

2. Listen to what the requester is asking for to see if Nunhead Knocks is able to help. If you can address the issue there and then, please do so.

  1. If the request is standard then log the request using the form on the Nunhead Knocks website

  2. When taking the request please put in as much essential information as you can for the Matching team to pick up on the other end but try to be concise

  3. You can leave the email address blank if the person doesn’t have one

  4. If this is a recurring request, please put RECURRING on the request form

  5. Please refer to our Signposting document if not a request we can assist with (we are available to talk, pick up local prescriptions and other needs, and provide non-perishable food parcels)We need to fill in a webform even if we signpost someone to another service and they need nothing further from us. We don't need the same level of detail, i.e. address, but it's important to log that the request was received and we signposted them elsewhere.

When ending the call please close with this small statement:

3. “You can expect a call from Nunhead Knocks within 12 hours to find out more about your request. The volunteer that calls will verify your name and first line of your address with you. Please do not give out any personal information unless this has been verified with you beforehand.”

If a mail or call comes in from someone wanting to be a volunteer please reply to them and ask them to register on the website: https://www.nunheadknocks.com/volunteer. Once they have done so, they will receive a welcome pack email with all details for them. If you’d like, you can tell them we have some internal roles available on our blog here: https://www.nunheadknocks.com/blog-post/urgent-volunteers-needed-for-these-roles

Finishing Your Shift

Please ensure there are no outstanding emails or voicemails in the inbox if possible, leave any that you haven’t been able to respond to as Unread in the inbox.

Any additional details you’d like to pass onto the next person on shift, please record them in our phone-volunteers Slack channel. It might be nice to include ‘nothing to report’ so the next person doesn’t worry

Tips and Hints

What we can help with - and what we can’t

Nunhead Knocks volunteers have signed up to provide support in the crisis, but there are some things we can’t do, either because we aren’t qualified, or it’s not safe, or it’s not appropriate.

What volunteers can help with

  • Delivering food, shopping and other supplies

  • Collecting prescriptions

  • Parcels of food, household items and other needed supplies

  • A friendly, regular person to talk to

  • Dog walking and support with other animal need

  • Safe ways to pay for deliveries so you do not need to share your details

  • Passwords so you know who is contacting you is from Nunhead Knocks

  • Collection of donations through our Donation Stations

  • Food and meal delivery to other groups like youth groups, tenants’ and residents’ associations, care leavers

  • Feeling part of a community during this time through our Whatsapp groups, Facebook page, organisation groups and socials.

We can provide short-term Financial Support for those who cannot afford to buy food whilst they access longer-term support – please see the link provided for more details, but the key messages are:

  • The weekly limit is up to £35 inclusive for up to two adults, with an additional £15 for each additional person resident in the household.

  • The monetary limit is for essential household supplies (toilet roll, kitchen roll, cleaning products etc), pet food and personal hygiene supplies (soap, toothpaste, sanitary supplies etc) only. It may not include drinks other than juice/squash, milk or milk alternative, tea or coffee

  • No alcohol, cigarettes or other non-essential items.

  • Shopping can include electricity and phone top up but the amount is strictly limited to £10 each for gas or electricity, or £20 for one, and £5 for phone. We can only help with essential prescription costs.

  • We will provide this for four weeks. This is to give individuals or families time to access government or other support.

  • Please note: these are details you can give to the requester, but you are not responsible for organising. Please include details in the webform so it can be actioned.

We do not offer any medical advice or comment on the use or otherwise of personal protection equipment (PPE). In these cases please refer the caller to the NHS or UK government sources.

We can quote from the UK Government guidance which can be found here but we should not advise callers on a course of action

If it's a request for something not listed then please refer to our Signposting document to refer them to another local service that can help. No webform is required if you refer the requester, however, you can include some brief non-identifiable details to our phone-volunteers Slack channel in case the person calls back after your shift.

Response Times and Urgent Cases

  • We aim to fulfill urgent requests within 12 hours

  • Standard requests are fulfilled in around two to three days

  • Nunhead Knocks is not an emergency service and cannot respond immediately – the caller should be advised to phone the appropriate emergency service.

Urgent Cases

If a request comes in that must be completed by the end of the business day or before the morning it is classed as an urgent case. This could be someone who has run out of medication, food, gas or electricity.

If the case is urgent please comment in the Phone Volunteers Slack channel for the Support Coordinators to prioritise.

Please try to ascertain the urgency of the request, and highlight accordingly on the webform


  • As a rule we will only accept non-perishable food donations, which will be transferred to a local food bank, person in need or used to prepare meals for people in need.

  • Food donations can be dropped off at The Green Community Centre in Nunhead (next to The Old Nun’s Head pub), Monday to Friday 1-3pm. We also have a number of local donation drop-off points that can be found here: https://www.nunheadknocks.com/donations#donation-station

  • Potential food donations can be directed to our Food Coordinator through Paddy. It’s best to email donations@nunheadknocks.com with more details

  • Financial Donations can be made via the website nunheadknocks.com

We cannot accept offers of homemade protective equipment (masks, gowns etc) since Nunhead Knocks could not guarantee the efficacy of this equipment to potential users.

Payments for Shopping

The financial arrangement will be discussed during the matching process but in general the caller will not have to hand over money until they have received their shopping. Here is a link that gives a breakdown of the ways we can offer advice for payment.


If any complaints come through, please listen sympathetically to the caller and let them know we will look into this for them.

If the caller is happy to write an email with the details please give them this email address: complaints@nunheadknocks.com. If the caller is unable to do this please take as much information as possible including their name and contact number and email it through to the same address.


It is your responsibility not to undertake anything that would endanger your safety. Volunteering on phone lines is by its nature stressful, and you need to think about your mental wellbeing before you offer to take on this role. If you have concerns about yourself, speak to your Comms Coordinator.

If you do receive a call that becomes stressful you may be referred to a matching specialist to talk through the incident. For more information please take a look at our safeguarding guidance here.

What is classed as an incident?

  • Injuries

  • Distressing phone call

  • Receiving verbal abuse or threats

  • Detected scams

  • Data breaches

  • Sexualised language/harassment

Thank you again for volunteering your time to Nunhead Knocks. Being a Comms Monitor is an integral part of how we help our local community through COVID-19 and beyond.

Please get in touch with us if you need more details or to update this document further.

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