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Volunteers’ Week: Zahir Nayani and the Fasted 500

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The Festive 500, the annual riding challenge from swanky cycling brand Rapha, has become a rite of passage for cyclists around the world. The challenge involves riding 500km in the 8 days between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. As a veteran of the challenge, but wanting to create a gentle spin to encourage more Muslims to remain active during the month of Ramadan, Zahir Nayani, a Partner in our Islamic Finance team, launched a new challenge – the Fasted 500.

What is the Fasted 500?

The Fasted 500 challenges those observing the month of Ramadan to remain active in what might ordinarily be a sedentary month by sensibly cycle 500km.

The challenge has seen a truly global cohort of riders from Washington DC, Kuala Lumpur, Adelaide and Swindon(!) succeed in the challenge to earn their custom roundel (the universal language of cyclists) – with all profits from the sales of the roundels going to Cycling Sisters Bristol (CSB), a grassroots initiative aimed at encouraging women from marginalised communities to cycle.

Having sold close to 100 roundels to date via the Fasted 500’s dedicated online store, Zahir will take advantage of his CSR Days by cycling (obviously!) from his home in Swindon to Easton, Bristol to deliver a commemorative cheque to CSB and to hear a little about their plans to put the monies to good use – so far an estimated £250 has been raised!

What are CSR Days?

At Foot Anstey we encourage our people to be active participants in our communities by offering their time as volunteers. Everyone in the business has 2 additional days of paid leave each year to volunteer.

Why has it been so important?

Zahir said: “Open-source data confirms the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on BAME communities, with some pointing to potential factors such as many of us being from communities of extended families, to having more presence on the NHS frontline, to perhaps even having genetic predispositions to Covid-19. There’s not much we can immediately do about any of those, but one thing we do have control over is our lifestyle choices. While Muslims don’t tend to drink or smoke, boy can we eat! In light of that backdrop, it became apparent just how overdue a targeted challenge of this sort was.”

Many have commented how engaging with our content on social media platforms, such as Instagram, has made them feel part of a genuine community of Muslim cyclists that they have not previously experienced or known to be possible.

Zahir describes the response to “what began as a passing idea in the midst of the third lockdown” as “staggering”, with the challenge garnering support from BikeRadar, komoot, Advntr.cc, Wizard Works and Bristol Bicycles, as well as endorsement from Rapha themselves. He explains that “in addition to the obvious feelgood factor, the most rewarding aspect of this runaway idea has been the warm reception it has garnered from so many riders. Many have commented how engaging with our content on social media platforms, such as Instagram, has made them feel part of a genuine community of Muslim cyclists that they have not previously experienced or known to be possible.”