Marcus Rashford is feeding Britain’s kids

Monday: Marcus Rashford: Feeding Britain’s Children; (BBC One, 7pm)
Marcus Rashford has improved the lives of 1.7 million children across the countryMarcus Rashford has improved the lives of 1.7 million children across the country
Marcus Rashford has improved the lives of 1.7 million children across the country

On Friday, a jolly individual in a red suit will hopefully be arriving to bring joy and cheer to children around the world.

However, if you ask millions of families around Britain, they will tell you another (slightly younger) man, also in a red outfit, has already made their lives considerably better this year.

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It is estimated that as a result of his crusading campaigns over the past year or so, Marcus Rashford has improved the lives of 1.7 million children across the country.

The Manchester United’s and England striker’s drive to bring about societal change began in October 2019, when he set up the In the Box campaign with Selfridges to give homeless people essential items over the Christmas period.

He and his mother Melanie visited shelters to personally hand the boxes out, while also sending some to a children’s home in his grandmother’s home country of St Kitts and Nevis.

Then, in March this year, during the first UK lockdown, Rashford teamed up with the poverty and food waste charity FareShare to deliver meals to those in the Greater Manchester area who were no longer receiving free school meals.

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With an initial target of supporting 400,000 children in the region, the initiative quickly raised over £20million to provide food for children nationwide, and in the summer Rashford revealed that the charity had been able to reach over four million kids.

Also in June, Marcus wrote an open letter to the government calling on them to end UK child poverty and, a day later, they announced a change in policy regarding the extension of free school meals for children during the summer holidays.

Rashford wasn’t done there, and in September, he set up the Child Food Poverty Task Force in collaboration with several UK food shops, manufacturers, charities and delivery companies.

After he was awarded an MBE in October, Rashford vowed to continue his campaign, and a week later began a petition on the UK Parliament website to end child food poverty, with demands made for expansion of the free school meals programme, provision of meals and activities during school holidays, and an increase in value of Healthy Start vouchers.

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He described himself as “blown away”by the nationwide support which followed, with over 100 businesses, charities, and local councils quickly pledging to the campaign.

In November, it was announced that, because of Marcus’s campaign, the government would be providing funding of almost £400m over the next 12 months to support the cost of food and household bills to poor families.

Former Red Devils manager Alex Ferguson and venture capitalist Michael Moritz pledged to double any donations through a Christmas fundraising appeal.

In this one-off documentary, cameras follow the footballer from Wythenshawe as he tries to better understand the effects of food poverty and how Covid-19 has contributed to the issue.

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He speaks about his experiences of going without food as a child and the sacrifices his family had to make.

We hear from those closest to him, including his mum, his brothers Dwaine and Dane, and his close friends.

But Rashford, who was honoured with a special award at the Sports Personality of the Year ceremony last night, is typically modest about the film. he says: “This is not about me it’s about offering a platform for voices to be heard.

“We’ve been ignoring the issue for too long, now is the time for change.”

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