Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford has described the government’s decision to extend a free school meals scheme into the summer holidays as a ‘proud moment’ and considers it ‘more normal’ that people are speaking up to campaign for positive change.
The free school meals programme is a cause close to Rashford’s heart having had to rely on them while he was growing up, despite his mum working tirelessly to try and feed the family.
The UK government had decided against extending the scheme into the summer holidays, which threatened to see children up and down the country go hungry. Rashford had written to MPs explaining that 200,000 children have had to skip meals during lockdown and growing unemployment because their families have not been able to put food on the table.
His pleas were initially rejected, but then the government made the U-turn he was asking for.
I’ve been called much worse over the last couple of days ?— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) June 17, 2020
At just 22 himself, Rashford has been hailed as a hero for speaking up, yet he just thinks it to be increasingly ‘normal’ so that the country can change for the better.
"It's becoming more normal that people speak out on topics that they believe in and I think it's just positive for the future,” the United star told the BBC.
“Just look at the generations after us - hopefully it becomes a normal thing and people actually want to do that and put themselves forward to do that.
“It's a nice feeling but I'm happy that people's lives are going to be changed for the better so that was the important thing that I tried to change. It's obviously a proud moment.”
“It wasn't just the food situation I was thinking about when I was raising the awareness, but mental health - the general wellbeing of people and families,” he also told Sky Sports.
“It might not seem like a big thing but not eating the right amount of meals every day can have a real impact on your life. I was one of the lucky ones because I had people that would help my family out a lot and when my mum was working, I knew I could go round to a friend's house to get fed.”
Despite Rashford’s open letter to all MPs on Monday, UK prime minister Boris Johnson admitted he wasn’t aware of the player’s campaign until after he was personally shown an interview Rashford did with the BBC earlier in the week.
It has been an incredible few days. A thoughtful and dignified @MarcusRashford has helped change government policy. Hear his full interview just after 8 @BBCBreakfast @ClaireRyan30— Sally Nugent (@sallynugent) June 17, 2020
“I’m just grateful that the prime minister did change his decision and that he understood. I spoke to him and thanked him for that. It was a nice conversation [to know] that we understood each other,” the England international explained when he spoke to the BBC afterwards.
“He was saying thank you for using what I’ve built in a positive manner. He didn’t have to what he did and neither did. He basically just grateful that someone had an opinion and shared it with people and being that voice for people who don’t have the platform to speak out.”
Source : 90min