Marcus Rashford already had our attention. But when his Twitter feed began trending on Friday, stars jumped into action to help support his tireless campaign to feed hungry children during the school holidays.
Celebrities including TV chef Nigella Lawson and Katy Brand helped to shine an already-blinding spotlight on the footballer’s campaign after 322 Tory MPs cruelly voted against his petition to extend free school meals in Parliament on Wednesday.
As the public condemned MPs’ decision on Twitter – even creating petitions for the UK taxpayer to stop paying for MPs’ meals at work – Peep Show actress Katy set up the Hungry Children Christmas Fund to help raise money to provide the missing meals.
By 10am on Friday morning, the fund had reached £30k of its £50k target and at the time of writing, donations had reached a remarkable £67,340 within just 24 hours.
Seeing Katy’s Twitter response to the incredible fund-raising effort, TV’s Nigella tweeted: ‘It shouldn’t have to be this way, but it is more important to feed a hungry child than argue about how it’s done.
‘Or rather, donate if you can and then do what’s necessary to stop those who make children going hungry policy.’
Stars including TV actress Tamzin Outhwaite along with Masterchef winner Shelina Permalloo have also been raising awareness on Twitter. You can donate, here.
So, given the overwhelming support, why are we still fighting to make free school meals happen for vulnerable school children in the UK?
To so many of us, it seems like a total no-brainer that families worst-affected by Covid-19 should be receiving extra support to feed their children during the term-time holidays.
It all started when Rashford set up a petition to #EndChildFoodPoverty in the UK back in early October, which has since been signed by over 480,000 people.
Earlier this year, he managed to get Ministers to change their minds about ending a £15-a-week scheme to provide meals to every child from a household on Universal Credit or equivalent benefit while schools were shut.
At the time, he claimed the scheme reached around 1.5 million seven to 16-year-olds.
Since the UK was rocked by Covid-19 over six months ago, closing schools and putting many families under financial strain due to lost work, 14% of parents and 10% of children have experienced food insecurity.
However, when the petition was debated in the main House of Commons Chamber this week, MPs came to the startling decision to turn it down.
Alongside with significant public fundraising, businesses including Co-op and McDonald’s rallied behind the footballer, vowing to provide free meals of their own.
Restaurants and local councils have also offered to provide what they can to children in their areas.
However, perhaps the greatest response to Friday’s activity was a push stop MPs from getting meals subsidised by the UK taxpayer, which amounts to a ludicrous £57,000 every week that could be going straight into the mouthes of Britain’s young people.
A new petition was drawn up on Thursday and has already achieved almost 350,000 signatures. If you, too, can see the iniquity here, why not sign the petition?