Manchester United and England forward Marcus Rashford has said that “the ‘stick to football’ advice doesn’t cut it where I’m from” in an impassioned article.
Rashford has campaigned relentlessly to combat child poverty, using his platform and engagement with charities such as FareShare.
He prompted a UK government U-turn over free school meals back in June, after they had originally announced they were set to scrap food vouchers over the summer holidays.
He wrote an open letter to the government calling on them to end UK child poverty, and following his conversation with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the government announced a change in policy that would extend free school meals.
The United forward then campaigned to have the scheme extended into the autumn and winter. Although the government initially rejected the motion, they eventually U-turned once again in November.
Rashford was awarded an MBE as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in October, and was also given the FIFA Foundation Award in recognition of his charity work to combat child poverty.
Rashford’s passionate words on combatting child poverty
Now, the 22-year-old has said that he will continue to fight against child poverty – and responded to those who tell him to “stick to football”.
Writing in The Spectator, he said: “Disappointingly for some, the ‘stick to football’ advice doesn’t cut it where I’m from.
“See, when my community had nothing to call their own, they always found something inn the way of kindness to give me.
“I am a product of their compassion, of their drive and of their willigness to offer me more than what was on my doorstep. I’d be doing that community and my family a disservice if I did not use my platform to speak on behalf of the millions whose voices are not being heard.”
Rashford then stated that child poverty has got 27% worse since before the pandemic, and adds that you could “fill 27 Wembley Stadiums with the 2.5 million children who are struggling to know where their next meal is today”.
He added: “Short-term solutions aren’t going to cut it. We need long-term planning executed well.
“Ultimately success comes down to communication – and this is where we have been falling short.”
He has also called on the government to expand free school meal eligibility, as children across the country return to school this September.
“Education can be a positive avenue out of poverty, but if children are hungry, how can we expect them to engage in learning?”, he wrote.
“That’s why I’m calling on the government to expand free school meal eligibility, in line with the National Food Strategy recommendations.”
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