Saturday, June 24, 2017

Seeing out Ramadan with homeless friends

Emdad Rahman

"Helping one person might not change the world but it could change the world for one person."

Half of homeless people are afflicted with diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer or arthritis but do not receive any treatment. It's a piece of information I came across when looking for inspiration on homeless issues. 

Ben Kentish recently wrote in The Independent about how homelessness has surged 34%, with 100,000 more families losing their home compared with 2010. 120,000 children are living in temporary homes as councils illegally place families in unfit accommodation. The situation with the majority of those we serve is so dire that they most probably are not listed on any records or databases. 

The One Third soup kitchen team were as always at Stratford City tonight with homeless guests. 

I had quite a busy day with a Running Down Dementia jog in the morning, watching my beloved Scintilla in action twice (controversial loss) and squeezing in some Eid shopping. We knew beforehand that Eid had been announced in Saudi Arabia for Sunday and even though we were sad to see the end of the blessed month of Ramadan the mood within our volunteer team was high spirited in anticipation of a day of joyful celebration. 

I was joined by Marjan, Amzy and the Splash kids from Poplar who are well known for their inspiring philanthropic activities. Even during Ramadan the kids have carried on with their community activities including visiting and serving the elderly at care homes with delicious home cooked foods. 

Today we had a lot of old faces absent but that's the case in the summer months where the hot weather encourages freedom of movement as our regular guests move about localities. 

I had a good chat with Danny about Ramadan and what Eid means 

Billy was his usual jolly self and Amanda and Rose were missing. 

Fasting is a really good way to empathise with the hungry and homeless with a significant difference being that a lot of us eat a hearty meal at the end of an 18 hour day of fasting. For our homeless friends this is not the case and many struggle to even get their daily nutrition. With added awareness amongst the greater public I'm sure we can all help make things a little better. 

Follow me on Twitter @emdad07

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Emdad Rahman
THE THINGS WE take for granted someone else is paying for. 

We had a new team at Stratford City with my mate Mosh and nieces Mariah and Zahra and Nadia all clubbing together to support homeless friends. Nadia in particular is running a project called “Humans of Tower Hamlets”. This centres around an exhibition which highlights the excellent achievements of individuals living, working and being schooled in Tower Hamlets – a borough often viewed through negative goggles. Nadia and her team aim to use this exhibition to demystify negative stereotypes and celebrate the excellence within the community.

Mosh and the missus had cooked up a stupendous two full pots of Biriani and the smell emanating from the back had wafted into the car during our journey and left me dazed by the team we reached Stratford.

Mariah and Zahra are both at school and were superb throughout as they took control of serving food along with Nadia. There were lots of smiles and positive interaction with the guests, and a few commented on how genuine the kids were: “Looks like they’ve had great tutoring and mentoring”; “Who is that person?”

It was nice to be a full on supervisor tonight as Mosh led the clean up at the end and even treated the girls to ice cream and me to a full whack Sprite.

•If you’d like to help interact with homeless London, tweet me: @emdad07
•Humans of Tower Hamlets takes place from 1st May 2017 at Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Thrills and spills galore at Base Jump Essex

Emdad Rahman: If you love being airborne then trampoline parks are a sure fire way to get the adrenaline levels rising rapidly. 

Upon arrival we were greeted by the terrific Tracy at reception and this really set the tone for our visit. Despite the computers being non compliant Tracy was a picture of efficiency and her fabulously affable character immediately got us liking Base Jump even before we'd taken that first athletic leap. 

On site there are 76 interconnected trampolines and the park can host days out and children's birthday parties a as well as other social events. 

It was certainly not our trampoline debut so all of us were looking to get airborne and nail those awesome manoeuvres. The boys commented on my enthusiasm and I even heard a whisper at the back about how dynamic I looked whilst bouncing off the walls and floor. I explained that level of agility does not come by chance with many trying but few actually being blessed in those disciplines. 

Back to reality and the venue is fun and safe for all visitors be they kids, or big kids in my instance. Visitors are surrounded by safety mats and there are plenty of friendly staff and court monitors around to enforce safety, assist and guide.

For frenetic and fantastic fast pace thrills look no further than the dodgeball arena where everyone can enjoy an energy sapping and hugely fun game or three. 

From fierce rivalries between friends to more casual games with your family visitors can step into one of three different dodgeball courts and take on the challenge. 

For the Ninja Challenge you are required to leap, swing and climb across the course without falling into the surrounding foam pit. 

If you fancy beating your foes into submission then joust poles are the way to go. Face your opponent and strike out. Avoid falling into the treacherous foam pit to be victorious. 

The Half Pipe uses the six interconnected trampolines to help you bounce your way left to right on and off the walls all the way to the end and back. Bouncing from your feet to your bum and back, there’s more than one way to run the Halfpipe and no two runs will be the same. 

Within the launch arena there are two different landing options: Soar through the air into the 4ft deep soft foam pit or take a leap of faith onto a giant air bag which will cushion a drop from the air.

Base Jump also offers adult fitness classes in the following sessions:

  • Fit & Fun
  • Bounce Ex
  • Box Bounce
  • Military Assault
  • Extreme LBT

There's also High Intensity Interval Training which is the most efficient effective form of training to increase fitness, burn fat and improve muscle definition. It consists of intense bursts of exercises followed by periods of active recovery allowing you to get the most out of the session and burn the maximum amount of calories.

Base Jump Essex is located in Rayleigh, Essex, and is not far from Southend and is thoroughly recommended, especially as part of a day out to the area. One thing guaranteed is plenty of fun for everybody, including corporateand team building days. 

Address: 26a Brook Road, Rayleigh, Essex, SS6 7XL.

Larbi Ben Mbarek: The forgotten genius

The first to strike gold in Europe
Was that famous Black Pearl
Fondly known as Benbarek 
To others the Moroccan Earl

El Ouatane aged fourteen
Honed the Black Pearl's stealth
Two Spanish titles for El Prodigio
Order of Merit after his death

Forty three goals for Stade Français
As Larbi walked the walk
Fifty six as Spain's Perla Negra
La perle noir du Maroc

From twenty Francs a day
An Iberian prince at Marseille
The first ever "black pearl"
Very high praise from Pele

Eight goals against Southend
A first French cap against Italy
War loomed and Larbi went home
With the arrival of the Nazi

French journalists raged in despair 
When Atletico signed a cheque 
One wrote; ‘Sell the Eiffel Tower, 
But not Ben Barek'

Idéal Club Casablanca and US Marocaine
Stade Français adding spice
Atlético Madrid Los Rojiblancos 
Where Larbi won La Liga twice

Nineteen caps for Les Bleus no myth 
Danced on dictator Franco's deck
Bel-Abbès and a stadium named
For Haj Abdelkader Larbi Ben M'barek

number7
© emdad rahman

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Homeless London is alive and kicking

By Emdad Rahman

We focus so much on the "homeless" part we forget the "people" bit... #TheWanderingLondoner

Tonight at the soup kitchen we had a mixture of the kids and new volunteers stepping in, including Dr Mohammad Hassan from. Queens Hospital, Romford, who came along despite a late shift on the job. Here is a gentleman making a positive difference in the lives of thousands of people yet he commits time to working with us on voluntary community service. The likes of Dr Mohammad are proof of the impact big hearted volunteers have on their communities. 

It's nice to see the weather is improving and this is very much reflected in the glow of the faces of our homeless guests, local shoppers, tourists and even the volunteers. 

West Ham played away to Bournemouth so the crowds around Stratford were a little subdued. The food was provided by Halima, her husband and the gorgeous twins Amna and Hamdan who even joined in to serve. The Biriani went down a treat and was very popular with our guests. We served lots of elderly friends tonight. One was clearly in distress and was seen to by paramedics. 

The kids were excellent and I usually like to observe them as they get on with their duties. Although I don't stand there with a clipboard i's a bit like the head coach observing his players as they go about strutting their stuff. I had given them a little briefing on smiling while serving, engaging in small talk, being attentive and not swapping personal details. I then let them take over and asked the adults to play support roles. In my opinion customer service is even more essential in voluntary service and I like to set a positive example myself by telling youngsters and newbies that it is irrelevant that homeless guests are not paying to eat from our hands. The fact that they chose to come to us to be served is the ultimate blessing, privilege and honour in the first place. Amanda and Jim stayed to the end and shared some banter. 

The thing about kids is nothing about what they do is put on and every action is genuine, sincere and no holds barred. They are not politicians and they cannot lie or mask their emotions. They may speak in sweet tones, harsh tones, ignore you, grimace or even hug you - sometimes in succession. What you see is very much what you get. 

In my opinion it is hugely important to bring the kids along and supervise them whilst they run a soup kitchen and serve fellow human beings who are in a vulnerable position in comparison to their lives. What are the alternatives on a Saturday night? Play Station? XBox? Social Media? Hit the town? Lets be honest and agree that lots of kids on a Saturday night are either on their consoles, getting up to no good or struggling to find things to do. The team at One Third soup kitchen offer a great activity. I encourage families to join in and not cancel Saturday night plans as we have a fine tuned system which enables us to set up, serve, tidy up and get back to what we were doing in no time. 

If you'd like to support the work of my team at One Third Soup Kitchen then follow and contact me on Twitter - @emdad07

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

ArcelorMittal Orbit - One attraction; many memories  

Emdad Rahman: We admired the ArcelorMittal Orbit at London 2012 during the Paralympic Games and at the time thought of how great it’d be to one day climb and survey the surroundings from a vantage point on the UK’s tallest sculpture. My recent trip sure didn’t disappoint. Upon taking the lift to the second floor we were treated to breath taking views of up to 20 miles across London’s famous skyline and the iconic sporting venues of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

In 2009, a design competition was held to create an iconic landmark that would become the centrepiece of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and commemorate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The winning concept was a creative collaboration between world-renowned artist Sir Anish Kapoor and structural engineer Cecil Balmond. 

During a chance meeting with Lakshmi Mittal, chairman and CEO of ArcelorMittal the world’s largest steel company, the former Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, secured his support to provide the steel necessary to create the sculpture. Construction began in November 2010 with the structure reaching its full height of 114.5m by November 2011. The ArcelorMittal Orbit was revealed to the public on 11 May 2012 and around 130,000 people visited the sold-out attraction during the Games. 

Following a period of closure after the Games, the ArcelorMittal Orbit fully reopened to the public on Saturday 5 April 2014 when the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park once again welcomed guests.

In July 2015, planning permission was granted to add a slide to the ArcelorMittal Orbit. Anish Kapoor invited German artist Carsten Höller, well known for his slide installations, to create it. Work began on The Slide in early 2016 with the first piece being lifted into place in April of that year. The final piece was lifted into place in early June 2016 and The Slide opened to the public on 24 June 2016. The opening weekend sold out in advance of the attraction opening.

To explore London’s extraordinary skyline visitors must ascend 114.5m into the clouds to the top of the ArcelorMittal Orbit before experiencing the city’s landmarks from the outside observation walkway suspended 80m above the ground. 

There’s a lot to see from the ArcelorMittal Orbit’s two viewing platforms from St Paul’s Cathedral, the O2 and Wembley to a birds eye view of the iconic London 2012 venues. You can even get up close to London’s landmarks with innovative and interactive touchscreens that allow you to zoom into the view and learn more about the city.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit perfectly combines awe-inspiring city views with fun and contemporary art. Visitors can interact with the sculpture itself, experience the thrill of The Slide designed by Carsten Höller, flip the horizon in Anish Kapoor’s two huge concave mirrors and enjoy the gentle descent of the 455 steps that wind their way around the sculpture and immerse you in a recorded collection of distinctive London sounds such as church bells and local markets.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit is the UK’s tallest sculpture, 22m taller than the Statue of Liberty and six times taller than the Angel of the North. The upper viewing gallery is 80m high and the lower is 76m high. The staircase is made completely from recycled steel and takes about 12 minutes to walk down. The sculpture is made from 2,000 tonnes of steel, made by leading steel company ArcelorMittal, which is the equivalent weight of 1,136 London Black Cabs. It took just over two years to build and contains over 35,000 bolts.

The Slide is the world's tallest and longest tunnel slide at 178m long and 76m high. In the exhilarating trip, riders slide on a specially designed mat and hit speeds of up to 15 miles per hour. Visitors are also able see out through polycarbonate 'windows' for some of The Slide.

It’s not for the feint-hearted and you are advised to grip tightly as you descend like a bullet through a myriad of twists, turns and drops of the world’s tallest and longest tunnel slide as it weaves its way through the iconic red steel frame of the UK’s tallest sculpture. To be precise it’s an exhilarating 34 second descent down the 178m long slide as brave souls meander through light and dark sections at speeds of up to 15mph as The Slide loops its way around the ArcelorMittal Orbit 12 times taking visitors through gentle curves, thrilling drops and a tight corkscrew named ‘the bettfeder’ – bedspring in German. 

The Slide is a unique collaboration between two of the world’s most renowned contemporary artists.  

With breath-taking views of London, the world’s longest and tallest tunnel slide and the UK’s highest freefall abseil, the ArcelorMittal Orbit is a viewing experience like no other.

Camping Pods at the Brighton Caravan Club

By Emdad Rahman: A few days out of London are always a welcome change from the hustle and bustle of living in the frenetic pace of the world’s greatest city. And so we packed the car and set off to Brighton to live it up in a nice caravan site not far from the Marina in the South Downs and in close proximity to the attractive tourist destinations the town has to offer.
 
Apart from boasting a pleasant stay at the caravan site the Caravan club team have introduced wooden pods, which enable visitors to enjoy the great outdoors.
 
We visited the Brighton location and spent an evening in the pods, an experience which was pretty unique. It was nice to get away from the helter skelter of city life and this is a fun and value for money stay for both camping enthusiasts and novices alike. 
 
We spent the whole day in Brighton with a totally packed schedule and the Brighton camping pods are situated perfectly to allow exploring this dazzling seaside city and the beautiful Sussex countryside.
 
The pods are a great way for both members and non-members to experience the fun aspects of camping life irrespective of the season and the state of our great British weather.
 
Each of the pods on location fit two people. The beds are basic yet comfortable and if you are tall in terms of height it is advisable to discuss this beforehand and decide space requirements prior to visiting.
 
The pods are also eco-friendly and come fully equipped with power points, a table and an electric kettle. Clothes can be hung up inside too and snacks along with milk and tea/coffee can be purchased from the site reception.
 
During our visit to Brighton we spent most of our time outside and came back to sleep in our pods. The atmosphere within the caravan park is serene and fellow campers are polite and friendly, There is a catering van serving freshly fried fish and chips all day long.
 
Our wooden pods were a great opportunity to experience and savour the great outdoors without getting wet or cold. The pods are sturdily built, well insulated and clean.
 
There is space available to park right next to the pod and the toilet block and wash facilities are a stones throw away. Small children can be accommodated in a pod but readers are well advised to make enquiries about requirements prior to booking up.
 
If you don’t drive then there are regular buses to take you into town as well as the historic Volks Railway which runs along the prom.
 
Brighton is a classic and lively British seafront town, filled with all the attractions you would expect from a famous coastal resort. The shopping is excellent with many unusual boutiques and antique shops to browse in. The town also has an operational pier, complete with amusement arcades and some of the finest fish and chips on the south coast, and is home to the Royal Pavillion. The site is also well placed for visiting the beautiful Arundel Castle and Gardens in nearby West Sussex, or the historic town of Lewes. With plenty to see and do locally and extensive recreational grounds adjacent to the caravan park, you're sure to have a holiday here that will be hard to forget.
 
In summary, this is a warm, pleasant and cosy stay in the heart of nature. The Caravan Club have introduced pods in Brighton in East Sussex, Abbey Wood in London and Coniston Park Coppice in Cumbria. Each site offers pod camping all year round to members and non-members.
 
Please note that camping pods are pet free.
 
What you can expect:
 
·      a small futon that converts into a cosy double bed (Coniston Park
Coppice includes two single camp beds)
·      an additional camp bed if required
·      lighting, heating and electric
·      two chairs
.      a car space
 
Brighton - East Sussex
 
3 January to 17 March:£45 per pod per night
 
18 March to 31 December: £50 per pod per night
 
A minimum stay at weekends applies.
Book today, call 01273 626 546 or email brighton@caravanclub.co.uk
Abbey Wood - London
3 January to 17 March: £45 per pod per night
 
18 March to 31 December: £50 per pod per night
Book today, call 0208 311 7708 or email abbeywood@caravanclub.co.uk 


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Friends FC win Sonali Othith Indoor Masters

Emdad Rahman: Friends FC have won the annual Sonali Othith Indoor Masters Cup for 2017. 

The 6 team tournament for over 40's was played at the Mulberry Leisure Centre over 5 weeks and included Shadwell, Poplar, Shagor, Brothers and Weavers. 

Friends beat off stiff competition from Shadwell and 2016 champions Poplar to win comfortably by six points.

Jamal Uddin, Chairman of Sonali Othith said, "Its been a really entertaining six weeks of action with lots of memorable action. Congratulations to Friends FC who finish as deserved champions."

Friends captain Kamal Chowdhury added, "We played plenty of good football throughout and on the balance of overall play and goals scored I would certainly say we were the best team and fully deserve the title for 2017. Well done to all who played and I'm looking forward to next year."

FRIENDS FC SQUAD:

Luthfur Rahman - Makbul Hussain - Jamil Ahmed - Masum Ahmed - Nasim Ahmed  - Akbal Ahmed - Muzakir Miah - Abdul Mahid - Nazmul Hoque - Kamal Chowdhury (Captain)

Saturday, February 04, 2017

One Third soup kitchen team up with Miss University UK


Emdad Rahman: I didn’t expect to see many regulars today. Winter is different and our homeless friends need to keep coming just to keep the big freeze at arms length. Stratford isn’t very friendly and we have a definite need for more services offered by volunteers at soup kitchens.

For this shift I had 17 Biryanis and a further 30 fried chicken meals to distribute to homeless friends. The cold weather was milder than the treacherous traffic and I arrived thirty minutes. Lucky our location is surrounded by eateries and my team mates tonight had been briefed to enjoy a coffee or three rather than wait outside in the hill.

We set up and were literally done within 40 minutes. I could’ve sworn we only served 10/15 people but by the end of the shift all meals had gone.

There were lots of new faces tonight. Amanda wasn’t there but Billy popped along. He particularly enjoyed the food and enjoyed seconds as did Petr, who took an extra one with him. I remember once when Petr told me at the Saturday soup kitchen that he had not had a proper meal since the previous Tuesday.

Tonight I had Sheuly and the lovely ladies from Miss University who use their talent, creativity, beauty and intellect to serve the wider community through outreach efforts and ambassadorial duties. It was a pleasure to have their assistance and we hope to collaborate on future projects.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Jump Evolution: where fitness and fun collide

The extreme 9ft jump towers are the highest in Essex and so with the Christmas holidays in full swing we visited Jump Evolution in Harold Hill, Essex to check out all the fuss people have been making about this new trampoline park.


The location was very easy to get to and traffic was light. Jump Evolution is nestled within an industrial area and car parking is not a problem with plenty of space on location. The venue itself is a visually pleasing stand out feature of the locality. We were met by cheerful staff and although there was a busy queue, check in was smooth, quick, efficient.
The vision at Jump Evolution was to build a state of the art trampoline park in Harold Hill where thrill seekers would leave satisfied after a few hours of ultimate high adrenalin fun. The park is meticulously planned in terms of layout and great thought has been put into ensuring a heightened and memorable visit through the introduction of many features which are designed to enhance the experience. The 26,000 square ft trampoline park is equipped with some of the most state of the art equipment on the market and can proudly boast of being the only trampoline park in the country which also has a trapeze swing and a main jump arena boasting over 100 trampolines.
Being a brave lad, I sent Dad on a recon mission on the trampoline, followed by my brother and cousin. They passed with flying colours. I even persuaded Dad to do a double take and recorded him from both sides as my brother pelted him with foam bricks. I’m reliably informed that the video has been a hit on Dad’s social media.
It’s inaccurate to label Jump Evolution as just a trampoline park as there’s so much to do. Jump Evolution has been designed with everyone in mind, and the experience can be enjoyed by children from two upwards as the little ones can bounce safely in the under-6 mini jump arena. Toddlers, teenagers, and adults can come and have fun in a safe and exciting environment with plenty of staff on hand to assist and serve if necessary. Once you’re done with all the bouncing and high flying there is the 6,000 sq ft mezzanine, which includes the Jump Evolution Cafe, selling healthy food and drinks with free wifi.
Book early! Jump Evolution caters for 175 humans per hour and I recommend that you book on advance and complete the waiver online in advance of a trip there. Jump Evolution trampoline park was built with you in mind.

One year of Jurgen Klopp

Since that start with Rubin Kazan
We've had one year of Klopp
Geggenpressen and a new main stand
And he's still the cream of the crop

There's that four goal Mersey derby win 
When the goals just wouldn't stop 
Magical against Dortmund
Like kids in a sweet shop

United in Europe sent packing
LVG soon left in a strop
Two major cup finals 
Seville caught us on the hop

Nicely posed at the top end
With a bright and talented crop
Herr Jurgen bellows "Boom!"
As the current king of the Kop

number7
© emdad rahman

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Building community spirit through volunteering

Maybe a home is nothing but two arms holding you tight when you're at your worst. 

It's been a busy weekend for us. On Christmas Eve I visited Mujib's Chill & Grill who very generously agreed to donate 50% of the days profits to Ummah Welfare Trust. Straight after that Moklis, Mumidul and all the kids came together to deliver the weekly One Third Soup kitchen at Stratford City. My aunt Shanaz had provided delicious biriani, long with cakes from Maria and  a car load of presents from Nazia, Luisa, Pericles and the generous team at Pearson Old Street, London. I had bags of clothes from Laurain. Everything went down a treat but we were missing some of our regulars in Amanda, Rose, Paul, Billy, Terry and Petr. We used up the whole lot and guess what? We weren't short either. Everything was perfect and nobody went away empty handed or disappointed. We left Stratford with one parcel remaining.

There were plenty new faces though and we let the kids take a more hands on role after briefing them on the journey over to Stratford. They were total stars and each one was a complete natural, interacting with smiles and small talk, handing over gifts, food and spreading cheer. 
We had a talented drummer to keep us company and it was like having our own private performing artist. It made me smile and gave me hope for our communities in the future. If the adults can nurture and instil togetherness, unity and an innate desire to serve those less fortunate then our understanding and tolerance of each other can only get stronger as our relationships with everyone blooms. It is that simple really. That and education too. And also a willingness from all communities to try and get on - Too often the focus is unfairly on a handful. 

Christmas Day was the first time I noticed that the number of immigrant homeless friends visiting the Whitechapel Mission outnumbered the natives. Crisis run their camps so a lot of the regular visitors had spread out but even then we served well over 150 homeless guests. Sue and Tony were on hand as always to guide, support and advise. Ramesh kept everyone in stitches with his pranks and gags throughout. 

The Whitechapel Mission is a unique charity. In 2016:
  • 6941 different people have used the services so far. 
  • 3,714 people have used the advice services during the past year. 293 were women.
  • 10% of people using services are under 26 years of age.
  • 311 people received help in claiming benefits.
  • 30% of people using the services have been in care at some point.

In 2017 I'm proud to announce that I will be running the British 10k for The Whitechapel Mission for the tenth year in a row. It'll be a personal landmark for me if I can make it and I have no intention of stopping yet. 

As part of a drive I had agreed to join Sister Christine Frost and Neighbours in Poplar to help out with a Christmas Day community initiative whereby approximately 130 Christmas meals were prepared and delivered by volunteers to the homes of elderly and vulnerable local residents. 

Neighbours in Poplar came into being in October 1969, when some concerned people gathered together a large number of senior citizens in Pope John House for a Christmas Party.

Because this was so successful and a need had obviously been met, volunteers began to meet regularly, visiting and providing necessary service for people living in the Poplar area of London E14. NIP offers Multi-Faith Care in the community, practical support and care for vulnerable people who are living at home, regardless of their faith, age, race, gender, culture, or disability. The team also provide disadvantaged children with breaks from their normal environment during the summer holidays.

I finished my day with a hearty meal with Robbo at Ariana. I am tired but very satisfied and full of life after my experience today. I did receive lots of messages for friends wanting to volunteer and am sorry I couldn't accommodate one and all. I would thoroughly recommend that everyone signs up for some volunteering and go through the channels by signing up for shifts where necessary. 

With our soup kitchen you could just turn up with some notice though. If you don't find an experience fulfilling or worthwhile then move on and change until you find your niche. It'll boost confidence, keep you happy, you'll be making a significant difference and will make new friends. It's win win all the way. 

Remember, our homeless, vulnerable and needy friends are not a problem - They are a result of a greater problem. It is our responsibility to support them. 

If you'd like to support please tweet me @emdad07

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Homeless London welcomes winter



Emdad Rahman

Addiction - stress - domestic violence - mental health - broken relationships - grief- unemployment - despair. These are all very real catalysts for homelessness. 

It's easy to forget that the homeless are people people who have history. Over the years I've met a former glamour model, champion weightlifter, banker and a diplomat - All individuals with notable contributions to society. 

It's easy to walk past that dishevelled and grubby person cowering in the corner, trying their utmost to blend into the shadows. But before we do let's step into their shoes. 

Tonight the temperature was harsh. Stratford City is usually bustling with activity but all visitors had either gone home or had decided to savour the warmth of the local establishments. 

Our usual homeless guests were nowhere to be seen. Jaf and I ditched the table and went for a walk in the Stratford Centre. We bumped into John who had two helpings of the packed boxes we were carrying. I said I had missed seeing him for months. He told us he'd just come out of after a short prison stretch. "It's better in there," he said. He's one of the most charismatic and kindest souls on the circuit. His spiral into despair began after he lost his son in a tragic hit and run incident. John pointed out some corners were we met a few homeless friends. None of the regulars were there tonight - Amanda, Bill, Rose, Tomasz, Paul, Viktoria. 

One gentleman took numerous boxes, loudly expressing his thanks several times. He said he hadn't eaten a proper meal since Wednesday and was stocking up. His companion was silent - his ravenous mouth was full with chicken. 

Tonight was a different experience for me and Jaf on his debut. We walked around. Although several of our regulars were missing (I pray they're all well) we made new friends. The service was slower and the interaction was more personalised than normal. 

Thank you Ranu & Idrees for the food. A thought popped into my head - In the end only kindness matters. 

As I drove away I put the car heating up on my banger to maximum. 

Twitter: @emdad07 #homelessness #OneThirdSoupKitchen #StepneyFC

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Befriending our elderly



There is a disturbing sketch etched deep into my memory banks of a bewildered elderly gentleman being told by a repair technician that his phone is fine. The agitated man replies with tears in his eyes, "Then why don't my children never call me."

Heartbreaking.

It seems nobody has any time anymore with all our modern living. The gadgets which are meant to ease and provide convenience in life are the root cause of our lethargy and sheer inactivity. We busy ourselves with the useless and mundane, whining and squeaking when required to live out a little civic responsibility. 

During our daily grind it's important to set aside a little time to do something a little bit alternative. 

It takes literally seconds to make an impact, forge a bond or make a positive change in our communities. 

Yes, you read that right! Literally seconds. 

I just spent minutes calling up my three elderly friends. As most of you know, this is a voluntary weekly routine and I absolutely love chatting to them. Hilda shares my love for all things football and we talk about the scores. She may be beautiful, well spoken and glamorous but she ain't perfect - She's a Spurs fan unfortunately. It's a longer chat with her and she is always keen to hear about me. Hilda asks me about my coaching, volunteering, the family. She boosts me with encouraging advice. See, it's not all one way - it's mutually beneficial. 

This may be a small role I play but no doubt the impact is immense. With the cold harsh winter months approaching we have no excuse whatsoever. It is our responsibility to check on our elderly, the infirm and vulnerable. It doesn't even have to be unfamiliar people either. We can start closer to home: parents, uncles, aunts, neighbours, friends - Call, text, Skype, email or pigeon carrier. It doesn't matter. Contact them. 

Forgive me, if I sound like I'm preaching - That is not my style, nor is it my intention. By sharing this blog I hope some readers may be reassured and inspired to take that step towards trying to make our world a better place. 

We need more people from our communities to be active in this manner. If you'd like to do what I do please contact the wonderful Lynne below. I promise you won't regret it. 

Barking & Dagenham Volunteer Bureau
Starting Point, 16, Pickering Road, Barking, Essex IG11 8PG

⚫️ Telephone: 020 3288 2168 / 2164 / 2180 / 2160

🔴 Email: bardagvb@hotmail.co.uk

🔵 Website: www.bdvb.org.uk

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Team Football Beyond Borders break World Record


Emdad Rahman: Chestnut Grove Academy School in Balham became the unlikely venue for a new world record as sixteen inspirational friends came together to do just that.
In an attempt to raise £30,000 for Football Beyond Borders the two teams commenced playing 5 aside football at 8pm on Wednesday 26th October. The #FBBWorldRecord crew began an audacious attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the longest ever continuous 5-a-side match on the planet – with the finish planned for Saturday 29th at 8pm. 


The entire match was recorded and refereed by FA-qualified refs, to be reviewed by GWR officials after.

The previous record had stood at just over 70 hours, which is almost 3 continuous days of football. 

The two teams, with a maximum of 8 in each squad took on, completed and surpassed the challenge. The action was recorded for official review and a live stream was set up on a dedicated Facebook page. Organiser Theo Strong had put the gravity of the challenge in perspective: "Each player will run around 150 miles, get 6-9 hours of sleep and score 30 goals in the 72 hour period," he said prior to the attempt.

Referees Abdal Ahmed and Emdad Rahman took over the last four hours of proceedings as the long awaited countdown began with a vocal crowd shouting down the numbers. A mini pitch invasion by players and officials ensued as everyone mobbed each other in sheer joy. The game wasn't over and to put some daylight between the new and old records both teams continued full throttle for another two hours. 

At the final whistle captain and organiser Theo Strong said, "Its unbelievable. We never doubted we would fail in our mission. We were focussed and resilient throughout. It's the craziest thing I've ever done in my life. Well done everybody. Thank you to all our volunteers - record keepers, helpers and referees for donating their time."

Tom Perez, Head of Communications at Football Beyond Borders added, "I think we can sum it up in one word - Epic. It's been an epic challenge. 

"The teams have broken the World Record and raised thousands of pounds for Football Beyond Borders. We use the power of football and the passion that young people have for football and put that at the heart of their education. 

"The only doubt I had was in the first ninety minutes which had me thinking how the boys would maintain that pace. But at no point has anyone withered. No grumblings, no let up. The boys have prepared well, ate well, looked after themselves and some have even take part in football marathons. And seventy plus hours on, they were still motivated and scoring goals. It's something we will never forget."

Referee Abdal Ahmed concluded: "Emdad and I are honoured to have officiated in this historic game. The players have been brilliant, the volunteers tireless and the crowds vociferous. Well done everybody."

Football Beyond Borders (FBB) is an education charity which uses football as an engagement tool to support young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

FBB uses football to create a more equal and inclusive society in which young people from low income backgrounds have the opportunity to develop the skills, attitude and character to succeed in education, work and public life.

To donate visit https://www.pledgit.net/campaign/9RTdzX/fbb-world-record-challenge



Sunday, October 16, 2016

Football and cricket unite for One Third Soup Kitchen



It was a case of Chelsea and Scintilla Cricket club providing a sport theme tonight as our One Soup Kitchen hit the streets to enjoy our weekly catch up with London's homeless citizens. 

The heavens had opened. It was cold, bleak and miserable in London Town. Traffic on the A13 was bad and I did well to get there 15 minutes past our scheduled start time. Routine is very important in the work we do. At Stratford we have homeless friends waiting prior to our arrival. They know the drill. They're hungry, needy, cold and this is often the only bit of sunshine in their lives all week. I know so, because they tell me so. 

The One Third ream operate two soup kitchens, at the Stratford Centre and Whitechapel Booth House. 

We are all volunteers and mostly fund this through our own resources and goodwill gestures. 

Our homeless friends were all lined up next to Starbucks. Some of the regulars were missing and Paul was very late tonight. Luckily Mahanur had a takeaway ready for him. 

As soon as the soup kitchen hit Stratford Town Centre the outlook had well and truly changed. It started with a comical moment as an older European gentleman made a smash and grab with half a dozen water bottles. The encounter set the mood for the shift - Laughter all round. 

Best of all we had with us former Chelsea star and my good friend Paul Canoville serving up a right treat. Paul has hit rock bottom in life and dragged himself right up and it was fantastic to have the support of the Paul Canoville Foundation tonight. "It's been tremendous," said Paul. "It's on my doorstep too and I can't believe that such a rich nation like ours can have a situation like this. I fell blessed to have played a part here tonight and I will be back."

Canners is spot on. When I look into the eyes of homeless friends I can sense their pride and sheer helplessness. It's important to reassure them firstly that this is a goodwill gesture, not charity and remind them that absolutely anyone in our great city can find themselves in the very same situation in less than three easy steps. 

Scintilla CC skipper Ayaz and Ani had cooked and bought over an amazing prawn bhuna in a huge pot, which was accompanied with a side of lentils. The aroma took over the town centre and I received complimentary comments from shoppers, revellers and tourists. I was confident that there would be plenty leftovers and the Scintilla Cricket Club boys, Zisan, Juwel, Ashraful and I plotted to have a party afterwards.

Alas this was not to be. The team couldn't keep up with the sheer numbers of homeless friends who just kept coming. We rarely run short and Hafsa dished up the last portion, a takeaway for Amanda before we packed up. Canners fared better with some nifty wing play. Being the slick fox he is, Chelsea's first ever black footballer had a small taster session earlier and later protested he had no more stomach room as he had delicious dumplings waiting at home. I did a Mark Dennis, gave him a knowing look and a light dig in the ribs. 

It's important to clean up and make a quick exit after soup kitchen is over as it's awkward if any late visitors arrive and we have nothing to offer them. 

A few selfies and we all bid goodbye. The Scintilla Cricket Club boys want to do it again. Hafsa is planning a food rota and Canners has called to discuss further. My friends are beyond amazing. They rally round and get stuck in and I'm honoured to serve with them. Each time they enrich lives and educate at the same time. 

If you surround yourself with good people then climbing steep mountains is easy. 

God bless!