'Political affiliations aside, can we not all agree that no child should be going hungry?'
During This summer holiday, there will be 1.3 million children going hungry and malnourished in England, accounting for 15.4% of state-educated pupils
Furthermore, according to a recent report, ‘2.2 million people in Britain are severely food insecure – the highest reported level in Europe. This indicates that the UK is responsible for one in five of all severely food insecure people on the continent.’
'We're turning into a third world country': Child poverty crisis leaves families living hand-to-mouth existence--Click Here and watch this ITV Report Video on the tragedy of Child Poverty in Britain
‘I encourage you to hear their pleas and find your humanity. Please reconsider the decision to cancel the food voucher scheme over the summer holiday period and guarantee the extension.’
In an emotional and moving letter Marcus Rashord calls on the British MPs to ‘Protect the Vulnerable’
Marcus Rashford is an English professional footballer who plays as a forward for Premier League club
Manchester Unitedand the England national team. Photo: Manchester Evening News
In an emotional open letter to MPs drawing on his own experiences of relying on free school meals and food banks growing up, Rashford said his story is "all too familiar for families in England".
"What families are going through now, I've once had to go through that - and it's very difficult to find a way out. It's very important for me to help people who are struggling. Whether the outcome changes or doesn't change - that's why I wrote it."
'Protect the vulnerable': Marcus Rashford's emotional letter to MPs*
‘I encourage you to hear the children’s pleas and find your humanity. Please reconsider your decision to cancel the food voucher scheme over the summer holidays.’
Marcus Rashford has called on the government to reverse a decision not to provide free school meal vouchers during the summer, saying that "the system isn't built for families like mine to succeed".
The Manchester United and England forward has raised about £20m to supply three million meals to vulnerable people while working with charity FareShare UK during the coronavirus lockdown.
To all MPs in parliament,
On a week that would have opened Euro 2020, I wanted to reflect back to 27 May 2016, when I stood in the middle of the Stadium of Light in Sunderland having just broken the record for the youngest player to score in his first senior international match. I watched the crowds waving their flags and fist-pumping the Three Lions on their shirts and I was overwhelmed with pride not only for myself but for all of those who had helped me reach this moment and achieve my dream of playing for the England national team.
Understand: without the kindness and generosity of the community I had around me, there wouldn’t be the Marcus Rashford you see today: a 22-year old black man lucky enough to make a career playing a game I love.
My story to get here is all-too-familiar for families in England: my mum worked full-time, earning minimum wage to make sure we always had a good evening meal on the table. But it was not enough. The system was not built for families like mine to succeed, regardless of how hard my mum worked.
Marcus Rashford with his mum Mel. He wrote: "Without the kindness and generosity of the community I had around me,
there wouldn't be the Marcus Rashford you see today: a 22-year old black man lucky enough to make a career playing a game I love."-Photo: The BBC
As a family, we relied on breakfast clubs, free school meals, and the kind actions of neighbours and coaches. Food banks and soup kitchens were not alien to us; I recall very clearly our visits to Northern Moor to collect our Christmas dinners every year. It’s only now that I really understand the enormous sacrifice my mum made in sending me away to live in digs aged 11, a decision no mother would ever make lightly.
This summer should have been filled with pride once more, parents and children waving their flags, but in reality, Wembley stadium could be filled more than twice with children who have had to skip meals during lockdown due to their families not being able to access food (200,000 children according to Food Foundation estimates).
As their stomachs grumble, I wonder if those 200,000 children will ever be proud enough of their country to pull on the England national team shirt one day and sing the national anthem from the stands. Ten years ago, I would have been one of those children, and you would never have heard my voice and seen my determination to become part of the solution.
As many of you know, as lockdown hit and schools were temporarily closed, I partnered with food distribution charity FareShare to help cover some of the free school meal deficit. Whilst the campaign is currently distributing three million meals a week to those most vulnerable across the UK, I recognise it’s just not enough.
This is not about politics; this is about humanity. Looking at ourselves in the mirror and feeling like we did everything we could to protect those who can’t, for whatever reason or circumstance, protect themselves. Political affiliations aside, can we not all agree that no child should be going to bed hungry?
Food poverty in England is a pandemic that could span generations if we don’t course correct now. Whilst 1.3 million children in England are registered for free school meals, one quarter of these children have not been given any support since the school closures were ordered.
We rely on parents, many of whom have seen their jobs evaporate due to Covid-19, to play substitute teacher during lockdown, hoping that their children are going to be focused enough to learn, with only a small percentage of their nutritional needs met during this period.
This is a system failure and without education we’re encouraging this cycle of hardship to continue. To put this pandemic into perspective, from 2018-2019, nine out of 30 children in any given classroom were living in poverty in the UK. This figure is expected to rise by an additional one million by 2022. In England today, 45% of children in black and minority ethnic groups are now in poverty. This is England in 2020…
I am asking you to listen to their parents’ stories as I have received thousands of insights from people struggling. I have listened when fathers have told me they are struggling with depression, unable to sleep, worried sick about how they are going to support their families having lost their jobs unexpectedly, headteachers who are personally covering the cost of food packages for their vulnerable families after the school debit card has been maxed out; mothers who can’t cover the cost of increased electricity and food bills during the lockdown, and parents who are sacrificing their own meals for their children. In 2020, it shouldn’t be a case of one or the other.
I’ve read tweets over the last couple of weeks where some have placed blame on parents for having children they “can’t afford”. That same finger could have been pointed at my mum, yet I grew up in a loving and caring environment.
The man you see stood in front of you today is a product of her love and care. I have friends who are from middle-class backgrounds who have never experienced a small percentage of the love I have gotten from my mum: a single parent who would sacrifice everything she had for our happiness. THESE are the kind of parents we are talking about. Parents who work every hour of the day for minimum wage, most of them working in hospitality, a sector which has been locked down for months.
During this pandemic, people are existing on a knife’s edge: one missed bill is having a spiral effect, the anxiety and stress of knowing that poverty is the main driver of children ending up in care, a system that is designed to fail low-income families. Do you know how much courage it takes for a grown man to say “I can’t cope” or “I can’t support my family”? Men, women, caregivers, are calling out for our help and we aren’t listening.
I also received a tweet from an MP who told me: “This is why there is a benefit system.” Rest assured, I am fully aware of the Universal Credit scheme and I am fully aware that the majority of families applying are experiencing five-week delays . Universal Credit is simply not a short-term solution. I also know from talking to people that there is a two-child-per-family limit, meaning someone like my mum would only have been able to cover the cost of two of her five children. In April 2020, 2.1 million people claimed unemployment-related benefits. This is an increase of 850,000 just since March 2020. As we approach the end of the furlough scheme and a period of mass unemployment, the problem of child poverty is only going to get worse.
Parents like mine would rely on kids’ clubs over the summer break, providing a safe space and at least one meal, whilst they work. Today, parents do not have this as an option. If faced with unemployment, parents like mine would have been down at the job centre first thing Monday morning to find any work that enables them to support their families. Today, there are no jobs.
As a black man from a low-income family in Wythenshawe, Manchester, I could have been just another statistic. Instead, due to the selfless actions of my mum, my family, my neighbours, and my coaches, the only stats I’m associated with are goals, appearances and caps. I would be doing myself, my family and my community an injustice if I didn’t stand here today with my voice and my platform and ask you for help.
The government has taken a “whatever it takes” approach to the economy – I’m asking you today to extend that same thinking to protecting all vulnerable children across England. I encourage you to hear their pleas and find your humanity. Please reconsider your decision to cancel the food voucher scheme over the summer holiday period and guarantee the extension.
This is England in 2020, and this is an issue that needs urgent assistance. Please, while the eyes of the nation are on you, make the u-turn and make protecting the lives of some of our most vulnerable a top priority.
* This letter was originally published in The Guardian on Monday 15 June 2020
What a Shameful Statement, and 'let’s face it, means so much more coming from him.'
'People usually ask how many nurses you could exchange for one footballer.
But one Rashford is worth a hundred ministers.'
Dear Mr. Johnson,
It is with great sadness and pain that I heard you have rejected Marcus Rashord’s plea and call for your government to show humanity, kindness and compassion to hungry children in our country, the country that you, similar to your friend in the US, are trying to Make Great Again.
This is especially very painful for me. I, like, many others, had hoped that your near-death experience with COVID-19 will turn you into a better, kinder, more aware, more concerned man, a man that once and for all can understand what it means to be human: (Dear Mr. Johnson, your Covid-19 survival must become a force for good)
But, no Mr. Johnson, you have proved that nothing, not even a near-death experience can change you for the better. This is a tragedy for our country.
In an excellent video below, James O'Brien (LBC) so eloquently says it all about who you are, why you are, when he compares and contrasts a recent article of yours with Marcus Rashford's letter:
‘The Prime Minister wrote about protecting statues of dead racists, while Marcus Rashford
wrote about protecting the most vulnerable children in the UK.-Photo:Youtube
The Manchester United striker wrote an open letter to all MPs call on them to #MakeTheUturn and extend the free school meals programme for the country's poorest children beyond the end of term.
He wrote: "Political affiliations aside, can we not all agree that no child should be going hungry?"
Speaking on LBC, James highlighted the difference in action between the Prime Minister and a 22-year-old footballer.
"On Monday 15th June 2020, the British Prime Minister elected to write an article behind a paywall in a newspaper owned by billionaires about the importance of saving statues of dead white supremacists.
"Meanwhile, Marcus Rashford, a young footballer, who has already raised and donated millions of pounds to poor children's families and charities, elected to call upon the government to extend free school meals through the summer holidays for 1.3 million British children of every creed and colour.”
Thus, Mr. Johnson, it goes without saying that our country needs a better man than you to make us all great again!
And for your interest this is How to Make the World Great Again: