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.”
B&M announces plans to open 45 new stores
Who else is excited for this?
We’ve got some good news for bargain hunters, as discount retailer B&M is set to open up to 45 new stores in the UK.
The company has announced that it plans to open more stores than expected this year, after its sales and profit jumped during the pandemic.
B&M kept most of its stores open during lockdown while some rivals shut their doors, with the demand for bargains rising as money became tight.
As a result, it expects to open between 40 and 45 new stores before the end of the financial year – with most opening towards the end of this period – although details of where they’ll be located are unclear at the moment.
Simon Arora, the chief executive of the retailer, said: “Our business model is proving well-attuned to the evolving needs of customers, given our combination of everyday value across a broad range of product categories being sold at convenient out-of-town locations.
“Our people have risen to the many challenges posed by the Covid-19 crisis, not least in serving our customers through a period of high demand, keeping our shelves filled, providing a clean and safe shopping environment, as well as sourcing higher volumes than we had planned.”
B&M was given permission to keep its stores open while others were forced to shut during the summer lockdown as it also sells food and DIY products.
Amisha Chohan, an equity research analyst at Quilter Cheviot, added: “B&M announced another positive trading update this morning, proving it is firing on all cylinders in both the UK and France.
“The retailer is also winning market share and has attracted a new, middle class, customer base – who are beginning to shop with them regularly.
“We believe B&M will continue to outperform peers as consumers become much more money conscious.”
Are you excited for more B&Ms?
Parrots removed from wildlife park after they taught each other to swear at customers
This is hilarious…
Five African grey parrots who were adopted by Lincolnshire Wildlife Park taught each other to swear in isolation.
The group of parrots at the zoo have now had to be put back into isolation to stop them from swearing at customers.
Adopted together on August 15th, they shared a room at Lincolnshire Wildlife Park but it turns out they’ve been up to no good in lockdown.
Although staff at the park have found it hilarious and enjoyed watching the parrots, swift action has had to be taken when they started cursing at customers.
CEO of the park, Steve Nichols said the parrots have been put in a ‘time out’, although he did confirm this isn’t the first time they’ve had swearing parrots.
He told LincolnshireLive: “Every now and then you’ll get one that swears and it’s always funny. We always find it very comical when they do swear at you.”
He added: “The more they swear the more you usually laugh which then triggers them to swear again.”
The room full of swearing birds, the chief said. was similar to ‘an old working men’s club scenario’.
Within 20 minutes of being in front of customers, the birds were swearing at them.
Mr Nichols confirmed that it was actually just a funny situation, explaining: “We found it highly amusing and the customers were fine – they were no problem at all.
“But we worried because we had a weekend coming up and children coming.”
The plan for the birds now is to release them separately so they can’t ‘encourage’ each other. Everyone at the park who has been working hard throughout the pandemic has enjoyed the laughs from the mischievous parrots.
“It has been a real rough year, but we are the eternal optimists and we have no option. We have to keep moving forward,” said Mr Nichols.
The parrots have both been good for business.
Mr Nichols explained: “It is quite an unusual place where you are walking around and people are swearing at aviaries trying to get a parrot to swear back at them.”
Government ‘preparing a total social lockdown plan’ for the North of England
Pubs and restaurants could be forced to close for a fortnight as part of a ‘total social lockdown’ plan.
The emergency plan is currently being considered by the government following spikes in the number of cases across the North of England.
In Greater Manchester, each borough is currently at ‘Red Alert’ with the infection rate in Bolton one of the highest in the country (235.1 cases per 100,000 people).
As things stand, in Greater Manchester people cannot visit friends and family in their homes or gardens and cannot socialise with people outside of their household or bubble in any public place.
These rules could now be rolled out across the North.
The Times reports that a ‘social lockdown’ was presented as one of the options by the Covid-19 strategy committee, the week before new restrictions were imposed.
The emergency plans have been drawn up after local restrictions put in place in areas such as Greater Manchester failed to reverse the surge in infections.
Under these proposed plans, schools, shops, factories and offices where staff cannot work from home will remain open.
It would also see meeting other people socially in any indoor location banned, as well as pubs and restaurants being ordered to close for two weeks.
London may also face these same restrictions, if cases continue to rise in the capital.
From today, every person in England is required to self-isolate by law if they test positive for Covid-19 or are contacted by the NHS Track and Trace service.
Those who fail to do so risk fines starting at £1,000 that can reach £10,000.
The number of people who have tested positive (infection rate) in Manchester now stands at 201 per 100,000. An additional 1,000 new confirmed cases were recorded over the week leading to September 24th.