Marcus Rashford, herald of child poverty in the United Kingdom

Marcus Rashford, in a Black Lives Matter jersey, during the Premier League match against Tottenham on June 19 in London.

It’s a very beautiful story, as the time produced very little. That of a young millionaire, a footballer with a big heart, Marcus Rashford, just 23 years old, striker and Manchester United number 10 jersey. That also of hundreds of thousands of Britons, owners of pubs, teachers, municipal councilors or deputies, who came out of their silence or their torpor at the end of October, to fight with him against a national shame, child poverty. And make up for the shortcomings of a conservative government that has at best lost all political flair, at worst all moral compass.

In 2019, 30% of children were living below the poverty level in England. The proportion climbs to more than 40% in some London neighborhoods.

On October 15, Marcus Rashford files a petition in the British Parliament to 10 Downing Street for “End child poverty: no child should go hungry”. His finding? 14% of parents and 10% of children have experienced food insecurity in the past six months and 32% of families have lost income due to Covid-19. The epidemic would have worsened an already dramatic situation. In 2019, 30% of children were living below the poverty level in England. The proportion climbs to more than 40% in some London neighborhoods, due to the high rents.

A very concrete plan

No unnecessary rhetoric: the big fellow with the youthful face has a very concrete plan. For now, the free meals, the right to free meals for the poorest households (either in the canteen or in the form of vouchers), can only benefit children until their second year of primary school and are not available during the holidays. “I call him government to extend vouchers for free meals to all parents of children up to 16 years of age benefiting from minimum social benefits, to continue to provide these vouchers during school holidays and to increase the value of “health vouchers” [pour les femmes enceintes] at least 4.25 pounds [4,68 euros] per week “, claims the athlete.

Effectively relayed on his Twitter account (3.7 million subscribers), the footballer’s petition collects 250,000 signatures in two days – nearly 800,000 in one week. A chance: the player (the youngest English footballer to have played in a European tournament – in 2016, under 19) has just started his European season by scoring the second goal, that of victory, in the 87e minute, last October 20 at the Parc des Princes against PSG. What cut the quid to those already ready to accuse him of scoring more points in public relations than on the ground. Obviously sensitive to a cause it has defended for years, the Labor Party is getting involved and demanding a vote in Parliament on the extension of free meals during the holidays, especially those at the end of October.

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