18 June 2020 - Post by:Rachel Reeves
Never have we needed role models more than in the face of a pandemic which shows no signs of retreat in the present climate. A huge shout out today for Marcus Rashford, a 22-year-old Man United forward, who has spoken up in support of extending the school meal voucher scheme in England. Openly sharing powerful reflections on his own upbringing and his mum’s struggle to raise five children, relying often on food banks, demonstrates a maturity, authenticity and empathy far beyond his years. In the midst of a pandemic which does not discriminate as regards its victims, it is important to recognise the collateral damage it causes and the further entrenched division it will create inadvertently between ‘the haves’ and ‘the have nots’. The small steps taken to support social mobility in recent years will be severely impacted by the economic and social impact the fall out of this virus will inevitably cause.
As a footballer, Rashford has influence over millions, and it is telling to see that now he has spoken out, other influencers like Gary Lineker are publicly backing him, giving the issue of child poverty more oxygen. In more traditional workplaces, business leaders and senior executives can perform the same role of raising awareness of issues that may be difficult to talk about by doing the same thing: telling real stories which educate, busting myths and challenging stereotypes.
And it works. In a U-turn, the Government has extended the scheme to provide free school meal vouchers during the summer holidays.