Marcus Rashford has faith he won’t need to fight for rights of vulnerable children for the rest of his career
Marcus Rashford says he hopes there will soon be no need for him to campaign for the rights of vulnerable people.
The England and Manchester United striker was last week awarded an MBE for services to Vulnerable Children in the UK during Covid-19 following his relentless campaigning in order to protect children from going hungry across the country.
Rashford’s work during the summer forced the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and the government into a u-turn over the decision to cancel school meal vouchers over the holidays.
Rashford has spearheaded the efforts to help those most in need having experienced it himself growing up, but remains stunned at the findings he and his team make and the messages they receive when working towards the best ways to make a difference, and hopes it is not something that will be needed for the whole of his career.
“Every single day it shocks me,” Rashford said. “It’s not until people see the numbers and I’ve had the chance to visit some of the families I’ve managed to help and hear how it’s affected them and changed their lives. It’s just mind-blowing the amount of people who are suffering and the amount of people who don’t know where to get the help.
“There’s a lot of things that would shock a lot of people if they knew the facts about the issue. For me not enough people do know the facts, as I was one of them.
“There’s been lots of different messages, and they all affect me. They’re all a little bit different, and they all affect me in the same way.
“For me, personally, it’s just sad to know it’s still going on, and I obviously was in that position when I was younger, and some of the families are in much worse positions than what I was in, so I can only imagine what it feels like for the parents and the children who just want the best for one another, so it’s difficult to really say one thing that somebody said to me that sticks out, because for me they’re all as important as each other.
“I don’t know what the future holds, I had to learn about the issues myself as time went on and gain more of an understanding about different issues in order to try and help people in the right way. That’s it for me, it’s just about helping people in the best way possible and whether these things happen all the way throughout my career which hopefully not because I think a lot of issues should be fixed and put right by that time.
“I’m still young and I’m very much enjoying my football whilst helping people.”
Footballers are often decried for expressing their social or political views in public, but Rashford – who has followed in the footsteps of Danny Rose and Raheem Sterling who have spoken out on issues of depression and racism – says being thrust into the limelight at a young age has given him the footing and maturity to stand up and speak out.
“I think playing for United and England at a young age, it helped me mature a lot quicker than I would’ve expected to,” said Rashford, who made his professional debut at 18. “I’m grateful for those opportunities and very happy I was put in those positions. I do feel like I’ve matured a lot. I feel like I’m free to speak on things I feel strongly about. It’s because of those experiences in the past that make me feel so comfortable doing that.
“In sports things change all the time and especially in our generation, you mentioned those players’ names that there’s more people speaking out on issues that they feel strongly about and it definitely gives you the element of freedom to speak about things that are important to you.
“That’s actually how everything first started for me, just speaking on something I thought was right. I don’t think players should feel bad about doing that. It’s becoming more and more important and the more that people do that, the more an eye opener it to how many people we can help and we can affect. For me it’s a good thing and a positive thing that people feel that freedom to speak out on things.”