2020 was a difficult year for everyone. The Covid-19 pandemic led to strict lockdowns and restrictions to the way that people lived their lives. Many people faced uncertainty, both for their job security and their health. Despite these hardships, 2020 was a year where largely, the country pulled together and all had a common goal.
However, there were still areas where those in power and the people in need were divided. The government’s refusal to continue the supply of free school meals to those in need during summer 2020 was met with opposition by those who were shocked and saw it as inhumane. In the face of this opposition, initially the government did not look to be wavering on its policy and thousands of school children faced a summer with no meals. That was, until Marcus Rashford stepped up.
Rashford, 23, grew up in Wythenshawe, Manchester, an area where the rate of food poverty is incredibly high. Rashford went to a school where a large percentage of the students receive free school meals and he experienced economic hardships first-hand. These experiences influenced him to take a stand in 2020, leading many campaigns against the government in which he achieved great successes. Rashford has repeatedly stated that his ultimate goal is to eradicate food poverty in the UK.
In June 2020, Rashford’s campaign saw its first success, forcing the government to ‘U-Turn’ its initial vote against extending school meal vouchers for children during the summer holidays. This result followed weeks and months of campaigning, gaining support from local governments and charities and solidified Rashford’s position as the face for the fight against food poverty in the UK.
Whilst achieving a brilliant result, Rashford has never wavered from his desires and goals. In January 2021, pictures emerged online of food parcels that families had been sent by the government, as a replacement for meal vouchers. Such was the incredible backlash to these images, Marcus Rashford again took on responsibility for ensuring that these problems were rectified. Following a phone call with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Rashford was once again successful in his fight for social justice as Johnson admitted they were “unacceptable” and promised to rectify this issue with “immediate action”.
Moreover, Rashford has had more social success at the start of January 2021, as the government extended the supply of free school meals vouchers during the third Lockdown. Without the rigorous campaigning and continual pressure that Marcus Rashford, and the local councils, companies and charities apply to the government, this would not have been possible. He is on a mission to eliminate food poverty in the UK and it seems as though he will not rest until he has achieved that.
What perhaps inspires people the most about Marcus Rashford is his maturity, as a 23-year-old footballer. He continually uses his platform for the benefit of others, and is committed to making a difference to improve the lives of as many people as possible. On 18 January 2021, Rashford teamed up with supermarket chain Aldi for its ‘ten million meals’ campaign, where they pledged to supply ten million meals to families in need in 2021.
Most recently, in January 2021, Rashford called for a full-scale review of the free school meals system in the UK. Whilst having previous success and achieving some brilliant results, Rashford sees these victories as more reactive than pro-active. Not content with prior achievements, the 23-year-old hopes to change the policies at government level to ensure the country, and the people who need free school meals, don’t find themselves in the same position in the future.
Marcus Rashford uses his platform for social justice and to help those in need. As a young footballer, he has inspired a nation and is a terrific role-model.