Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford is leading a huge campaign to end child poverty in the UK, and has urged every single MP to back the campaign.
The football star who forced Boris Johnson to extend free school meals into the summer holidays in a massive u-turn by the government earlier this year is continuing his efforts.
Working with many UK supermarkets and food retailers, Rashford has created the ‘National Food Strategy’.
The campaign should see expansion of free school meals, school holiday support and the Healthy Start voucher scheme to ensure no child goes hungry.
Rashford, who is just 22, has written to every MP in the country to urge them to back the campaign.
The letter sees him write about meeting a mother of two young sons living off three slices of bread a day. She cooks them in hot water and sugar, hoping the ‘porridge consistency might better sustain the hunger of her one-year old child’.
The letter also speaks of a family, who sleep on one mattress on the floor after selling everything valuable to put food on the table.
He writes: “This is the true reality of England in 2020”.
The letter adds: “Within two days of sitting with these families, I could better understand how food poverty is contributing to social unrest.
“Watching a young boy keeping it together whilst his mother sobbed alongside him, feeling like he has to step up to protect his family and alleviate some of that worry. He was nine-years-old…
“I know that feeling. I remember the sound of my mum crying herself to sleep to this day, having worked a 14-hour shift, unsure how she was going to make ends meet.
“That was my reality and thankfully I had the talent to kick a ball around to pull us all out of that situation. Many can’t find that way out and aren’t being offered a helping hand to do so.
“Those most at risk aren’t in a position and don’t have the platform to scream help from the top of the rooftops but, for those ready to speak, my intention is to offer them the platform to do so, and for those who aren’t, I will continue to be their voice and act on their behalf.”
Marcus Rashford, with Aldi, Asda, Co-op, Deliveroo, FareShare, Food Foundation, Iceland, Kellogg’s, Lidl, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose, has formed the ‘Child Food Poverty Task Force’.
The task force aims to fund free school meals for every child from a household on Universal Credit or equivalent, adding 1.5 seven-16 year old children.
It will expand to a further 1.1m children with increases in Healthy Start vouchers (from values of £3.10 to £4.25 per week) that include food and holiday provision for all children on free school meals. This scheme will expand to all those on Universal Credit or equivalent and will reach an additional 290,000 pregnant women and children under the age of four.
Rashford added: “These children are the future – our next generation of NHS workers, police officers, footballers and politicians.
“Allow our children to believe that, regardless of the cycle, they can be anything they put their mind to.
“The topic of child food poverty will always be greeted with judgement, excuse and assumption but, at the end of the day, the only valid response we should be giving is, whatever the situation, it is NEVER the child’s fault.”
Around 20 people involved in mass brawl ‘with knives’ in Piccadilly Gardens
The violence spilled out into the street
A large group of people were involved in a mass fight ‘with knives’ in Piccadilly Gardens last night.
Around 20 people were caught up in the large brawl on Monday evening, and according to reports some were armed with knives.
The fight took place outside Morrisons on the end of Oldham Street, and happened around 9:30pm.
Witnesses reported seeing some of the suspects carrying knives, although police didn’t recover any from the scene, and busses were forced to stop as the violence spread out onto the road.
Someone who witnessed the fight said on Twitter: “Piccadilly gardens is the roughest place on earth… a lovely night out helping ruined by a group of young kids kicking each others faces in”.
Officers responded to the incident, but no arrests were made or serious injuries reported.
This incident was the third of serious violence in just a few days.
Saturday afternoon saw another incident outside Morrisons in Piccadilly Gardens, in which a man was slashed in the face.
And on Sunday a brawl involving two tables at Barca bar in Castlefield happened, with some involved arming themselves with weapons like bar furniture and a baseball bat.
Leading scientists call for end of face masks and social distancing by June
Do you agree?
Leading scientists have written to the UK government calling for social distancing and face masks to be scrapped from June.
In total 22 scientists have signed the communication, saying that these measures should finish on June 22nd – the same date limits on social contact are set to be scrapped in England.
One of the scientists who has added their name to the letter is Dr Roland Salmon, the former director of the communicable disease centre in Wales.
Dr Salmon told BBC Radio Wales: “I am not venting my frustration but I do think some dialogue is well overdue.
“I have always felt that there has been little credible evidence benefit for many of the measures that we take.”
According to him, the letter was written to encourage the government to focus on protecting vulnerable people rather than the masses as we move forward.
Dr Salmon said we need to deal with the ‘here and now’ when asked about the threat of variants, going on to add that the vaccine has shown it helps prevent severe disease and death.
He added: “We can’t stop living forever while we wait for things to happen”.
Scientists who’ve signed the letter include Prof Robert Dingwall from Nottingham Trent University, who sits on the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG).
There’s also Prof Anthony Brookes, a geneticist and health data scientist at the University of Leicester, and Prof Carl Heneghan, director of the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford University.
The letter reads: “We are being told simultaneously that we have successful vaccines and that major restrictions on everyday life must continue indefinitely. Both propositions cannot be true.
“We need to give more weight to the data on the actual success of the vaccines and less to theoretical risks of vaccine escape and/or surge in a largely vaccinated population.”
It continues: “Covid-19 no longer requires exceptional measures of control in everyday life, especially where there have been no evaluations and little credible evidence of benefit.
“Measures to reduce or discourage social interaction are extremely damaging to the mental health of citizens; to the education of children and young people; to people with disabilities; to new entrants to the workforce; and to the spontaneous personal connections from which innovation and enterprise emerge.”
Boris Johnson is regarded as ‘untrustworthy’ by six out of 10 voters
It follows weeks of allegations against the PM
According to a new poll Boris Johnson is seen as ‘untrustworthy’ by six out of 10 voters in Britain, with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer seen as more trustworthy.
The poll from Ipsos MORI was shared by the Evening Standard, and comes after weeks of leaks and allegations about sleaze aimed at the prime minister.
The research found that Mr Johnson is trusted by just 35% of voters and deemed untrustworthy by 59%, while Sir Keir is seen as trustworthy by 42% and is untrusted by 41%.
Gideon Skinner, head of political research at Ipsos MORI, said: “On honesty Boris Johnson is clearly trumped by Keir Starmer, so this is an area of potential risk for him.
“However, his own supporters still trust him, and the public overall have never seen it as one of his strongest attributes … and as previous leaders such as Tony Blair have shown, you don’t have to be ahead on trust to win elections.
“The key question is whether and if these stories continue and start to change the public’s overall view on him as PM.”
The poll was taken following weeks of reports about murky donations being used to refurbish the prime minister’s flat, as well as disclosures about covert lobbying.
However, it was undertaken before the most recent allegations that Mr Johnson said he’d rather see ‘bodies pile high’ than have another lockdown, so those reports won’t have been taken into consideration by those polled.
Despite all the recent controversy, the prime minister and government’s net satisfaction hasn’t changed much since March, with both Mr Johnson (44 satisfied/50 dissatisfied) and Sir Keir (36/46) having net negative ratings.
Ipsos MORI interviewed 1090 adults across the UK by telephone from April 16th to the 22nd – you can find full details here.