Footballer Marcus Rashford has been awarded an MBE for services to vulnerable children in the UK during the coronavirus pandemic, and he’s just dedicated it to his mum.
The pandemic has seen many individuals fighting to challenge the social inequalities exacerbated over the last seven months. This includes Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford, who campaigned for the government to reverse its decision to stop free school meal vouchers throughout the summer holidays.
Thanks to Rashford and his fellow campaigners, a “Covid summer school fund” was set up to ensure children eligible for free school meals in term time in England got a six-week voucher.
As part of his campaign, Rashford spoke openly about his own upbringing in a low-income, single-parent family.
“My story to get here is all-too-familiar for families in England,” he said in an open letter at the time.
“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. As a family, we relied on breakfast clubs, free school meals, and the kind actions of neighbours and coaches.”
He continued to explain that 1.3 million children in England are registered for free school meals today, and nine out of 30 children in any given classroom are living in poverty in the UK. It’s expected that the pandemic and recession are only set to worsen these figures.
Since then, Rashford has continued to fight for children living in poverty around the UK. He’s helping to break the stigma so often attached to poverty, raise awareness and, ultimately, make things fairer in society.
That’s why Rashford has just been awarded an MBE. He was named in the Queen’s delayed birthday honours list for services to vulnerable children in the UK during the coronavirus pandemic.
And in his response to the news, Rashford had one person he wanted to dedicate the MBE to: his mum.
In a statement posted on Twitter, he wrote: “I’m incredibly honoured and humbled. As a young Black man from Wythenshawe, never did I think I would be accepting an MBE, never mind an MBE at the age of 22. This is a very special moment for myself and my family, but particularly my mum who is the real deserving recipient of the honour.”
He continued to say what action he now wants the government to take, saying: “The fight to protect our most vulnerable children is far from over. I would be doing my community, and the families I have met and spoken with, an injustice if I didn’t use this opportunity to respectfully urge the prime minister, who recommended me for this honour, to support our children during the October half term with an extension of the voucher scheme, as the furlough scheme comes to an end and we face increased unemployment. Another sticking plaster, but one that will give the parents of millions of children in the UK just one less thing to worry about.
He added: “Let’s stand together in saying that no children in the UK should be going to bed hungry. As I have said many times before, no matter your feeling opinion, not having access to food is NEVER the child’s fault.”
Of course, there are so many other people without the celebrity status who are out there working tirelessly to end child poverty in the UK – and they deserve just as much, if not more recognition. But for any child who looks up to Rashford, this is a great thing for them to feel supported and inspired by.
You can visit the food poverty charity Fare Share website to find information, show support and make a donation.