Jeremiah Emmanuel: ‘I hope my story inspires other young people to become authors’


FRESH FROM Stormzy’s Merky Books, the publishing house which provides a platform for underrepresented voices and is home to winner of the 2020 Desmond Elliott Prize, Derek Owusu, comes a debut release from youth activist and entrepreneur Jeremiah Emmanuel.

Emmanuel’s memoir – Dreaming in a Nightmare – will be released on 20 August.

In the book he shares a powerfully moving account of his humble, single-parent upbringing in south London; his dreams and the barriers he had to break through.

With the likes of UK music icons Rita Ora and Tinie Tempah singing his praises and even former prime minister David Cameron describing him as one of the many “making our communities stronger and our country a better place,” Emmanuel is simply happy to share his story to inspire other young people to fulfil their dreams.

“From a young age I have always been interested in making a difference to youth and community life. I remember from the ages of 11-14 being involved in the UK Youth Parliament where I was elected as an MYP before later becoming youth mayor for Lambeth. Being able to raise funds enabled projects to be set up in Lambeth which benefitted young people and the community as the whole and was important for me because of where I came from,” he told The Voice.

Along with his two older siblings, a brother and a sister, Emmanuel gives special praise to his mother who, while experiencing many challenges, raised them single-handedly.

“Life wasn’t easy – I lost my dad at a young age and couldn’t afford some of the things other young people my age could. We were among the hidden homeless – often moving from one place to another yet through it all my mum was the saviour of the family who worked hard to keep us together and instilled in us the belief to achieve whatever we wanted,” he said.

It was with this belief along with inspiration from teachers and other older young role models which led Jeremiah to become an inspiration himself.

He is the mastermind behind EMNL – a youth enterprise which has consulted and worked with organisations such as Rolls-Royce, Nike and The Queens Commonwealth Trust.

He has also founded the BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra Youth Council and is a member of the Gates Foundation. Emmanuel was also awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in 2017 for his positive contribution within local communities, with Virgin’s Richard Branson commenting that it’s “great to see a recent school leaver helping to reimagine education and helping others to adopt a growth mindset”.

Emmanuel takes such compliments in his stride with his main focus to let young people know that with determination and belief in themselves – they can achieve great things.

“I’m forever grateful to Stormzy and his team that through Merky Books publishing house I have been given an opportunity to share my story which I hope inspires other young people to become authors themselves. It doesn’t matter who you are. 

“Whether you’re a hoodie wearing 15-year-old boy from Brixton or a 14-year-old girl from Hackney – you all have a unique story to tell,” Emmanuel said. “Dreaming in a Nightmare is a voice for the voiceless – which lets those who like me have experienced poverty and homelessness amongst other negative factors in life – that they are not alone and that while there are times we dream in a nightmare – we can also push forward even in a world which tries desperately to hold us back.”

Dreaming in a Nightmare: Finding A Way Forward In A World That’s Holding You Back published by Merky Books Penguin Random House is released on 20 August.

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