With Manchester United and England forward Marcus Rashford MBE spearheading conversations (and indeed policy) to drive sociopolitical change, the rather humorous suggestion that a footballer could reflect a more representative entity than those positioned to make changes the public want, has now developed into a more thoughtful discussion on the topic of representation itself.
It’s not a new concept - celebrities using their influence to lobby or raise awareness. We often see famous faces on our devices, championing charities and causes close to their hearts. So what’s different about Marcus Rashford and his work?
As someone who avidly avoids all things football, I’d not heard his name mentioned before. When we asked the community if they knew him, 93% said yes. Out of these, 83% claimed they knew him before the free meals scandal hit the media.
Why was this young, rich, clearly famous footballer speaking up?
As it turns out, he’d benefitted from free school meals as a child. With Boris and his government threatening to not extend the free meal scheme over school holidays, and as parents across Britain suffered job losses (whilst taking on full time teacher/parent roles) in a global pandemic - Marcus Rashford used his platform to speak up and exercise his right to protest the absurdity.
The consequence? Two U-turns from the government, and less children going hungry. I say less - that’s the reality of living in Britain today. We have hungry children. This March you will see him on the cover of Time Magazine. Marcus has been hailed as a hero, but the question has been raised: should he need to be?
We asked our community. Out of our respondents, 94% agreed it is the government’s responsibility to feed hungry children. A further 95% agreed that whilst it is the government’s responsibility, celebrities should back initiatives such as free school meals. When asked whether they would scrap or allow subsidised meals for MPs, a huge 90% voted to scrap them.
Finally, we asked - Marcus Rashford for MP? Nearly two thirds (61%) said yes, with 95% agreeing Marcus Rashford has shown change is possible. The future is made brighter by the 97% of young people who agree we have a duty to speak up for what is right. Let's keep the pressure on.