Footballer and acclaimed anti-poverty campaigner Marcus Rashford has looked back on an astonishing year and what comes next.
In an interview with The Big Issue, the Manchester United star said that, 12 months ago, he had no plans to campaign to better protect children living in poverty but knew that he would at some point.
He said: “I always knew that I would one day have a platform to help children just like me, and an injury combined with a global pandemic just offered me the opportunity to look into it further.
“When hearing about the possible school closures, my attention immediately turned to those children most vulnerable – without school, I had no breakfast club, free school meal or after-school club.
“I needed to bring attention to that.”
After becoming an ambassador with FareShare UK in March, he campaigned to raise money to tackle child food poverty before calling on free school meals to continue through the summer holidays, and then the October break in England.
In Scotland, the government had already committed to supporting children through the holidays – the SNP has pledged to extend free meals to all children if elected next year – but the England international’s campaign forced a series of U-turns from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Rashford also had a message of support for Big Issue vendors, who struggled to make sales when streets emptied during lockdowns, saying: “It will get better, it will get easier. I read something on Instagram the other day that said: ‘This year I made you strong. Next year, I will make you happy.’”
Meanwhile, actor Christopher Eccleston, an ambassador for The Big Issue, told the Christmas edition, on sale now: “Here is a footballer who my children, who are eight and seven, can now aspire to be. They can aspire to be a footballer but also aspire to be Marcus Rashford, who is an activist and a wonderful human being…and a Red!”
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