BOOKBIKE LONDON Team Captain Emdad Rahman is celebrating after reaching the milestone of sharing 5,000 free books.
The humble project started with a book donated by his dad and a bike donated by an anonymous cyclist from the South Coast. It was launched by local resident Emdad at the Barking Learning Centre, at a ceremony hosted by Zoinul Abidin, Barking & Dagenham Head of Universal Services, Since then, Emdad’s project has enjoyed great success, and he now pedals outside the Borough to visit neighbours in Redbridge, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Southwark and Hackney.
Supporters include First Citizen and Mayor Councillor Elizabeth Kangethe; pupils and staff at Manor Junior School; Only a Pavement Away; and the London Enterprise Academy. Emdad set himself the target of reaching 5,000 books before Christmas day – and he met the target a fortnight early, thanks in large part to receiving a box full of books from the London Enterprise Academy (LEA). The LEA Principal Ashid Ali commented, “We are very pleased to support Bookbike London throughout lockdown with books, food parcels and toys. We will continue to assist with such a vital free service.”
Bookbike London involves Emdad cycling to collect and share books with residents who are isolated, lonely and facing hardship. Emdad also shares books with care homes and schools. Due to Covid, Emdad expanded the service to include food, toys, clothes and medicine as part of his visits. The simple concept has seen Emdad featured on the Russell Howard Hour and be named as an England Lionheart alongside the late Sir Captain Tom Moore.
Speaking after reaching the milestone, Emdad said, “When I launched the project at the Barking Learning Centre, I had no idea of the impact Bookbike London would have, the engagement it would accomplish and the goodwill it would attract. I found that using a simple cycle to deliver a book, food parcel, clothes and/or medicine helped a great deal with mental and physical health and wellbeing – for me, as well as the recipients I made doorstep visits to.”
The Reading Agency has reported that the nation was reading more during lockdown, with one in three adults reading more – rising to almost one in two (45%) 18-24 year olds. A National Literacy Trust survey found three in five children said reading made them feel better during lockdown, while 32% said reading helped them when they felt sad about not being able to see friends or family.
Emdad found sharing a book with isolated and lonely people with little or no internet connection was vital – with many whom he met describing a book as a “lifesaver” during very dark times. Emdad says the community have come out with open arms and he hasn’t spent a penny from his own pocket for the cycle or its maintenance, books or other equipment. East End Cycles have also become his sponsor too.
The latest batch of books have been shared with residents at a local homeless hostel in Barking, as well as rough sleepers in the town centre. Emdad has dedicated this achievement to his late father, who donated the very first book, and to friends, family and even random strangers for tremendous backing. “I had a woman drive all the way from Scotland, drop off a bag of books and drive straight back,” he explained. “She had spent the night driving down to London after messaging me – that was surreal!”
●Emdad can be contact on Twitter: @emdad07
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