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Young Football Star Awarded Philanthropy Prize

Marcus Rashford MBE is on a mission to eradicate child hunger in the UK. 

English professional footballer Marcus Rashford MBE, has been awarded the Outstanding Young Leader Award by Global Philanthropic, an international philanthropy consultant, for his work in child education and food poverty.

The 23-year-old Manchester United player last year became an ambassador for Fareshare, the UK's national network of charitable food redistributors, which takes good quality surplus food and gets it to 11,000 frontline charities and organisations. 

At the start of the outbreak of the pandemic in the UK, FareShare launched an urgent Covid-19appeal, to which Rashford responded, initially to make a "substantial" donation. But after discussion with CEO Lindsay Boswell, he decided to provide his full support with a campaign and called on his millions of followers to help. The initiative quickly raised over £20 million to provide food for children nationwide who, if still at school, would be receiving free school meals. The charity had been able to reach some four million children as of July 2020. Marcus founded the Child Food Poverty Task Force, bringing food retailers, FareShare and other charities together to tackle the issue of child hunger.

With the widespread public support of his #MakeTheUTurn campaign, Rashford is credited with successfully influencing government policy, resulting in the provision of free school meals to 1.3 million vulnerable children during the summer holidays, and the following Winter Package covering up to Easter 2021.  

“[Rashford] was determined to stick his neck out and do whatever he could to change the lives of young children," said Simon Thompson of Fareshare. Rashford was appointed Member of the British Empire (MBE) last year, and vowed to continue his work. He has since launched a petition to end child hunger in the UK using vouchers and free school meals, which drew over one million signatures. Last November it was announced that, because of Rashford's campaign, the government would be providing funding of almost £400m over the next 12 months to support the cost of food and household bills to poor families.

He is now also working on a child literacy campaign, having teamed up with Macmillan Publishers to distribute free books through a book club to underprivileged children. 

Rashford's sense of social purpose was ignited many years ago, as a child from a working class of family of five in Manchester. Brought up by a single mother who worked multiple jobs and often skipped meals so that her children could eat, Marcus had a drive to change. He said in an interview with the BBC last December, "All the little struggles and the sacrifices that you made, it helps you appreciate everything like 10 times more, so I don’t see it as a weakness. I think in sport you have to have something behind you that is pushing you. When you come from a place of struggle and pain, a lot of the time it switches and it becomes your drive and motivation.”

Rashford has been compared to Thierry Henri in terms of his football talent. With Manchester United, Rashford has so far won the FA Cup, EFL Cup, FA Community Shield and Europa League. Rashford scored on his England debut in May 2016, becoming the youngest English player to score in his first senior international match. 

Ben Morton-Wright, founder of Global Philanthropic, who announced the award for Rashford at the company's annual forum, Talking Philanthropy, said: "We wish to celebrate Marcus Rashford MBE as an exceptional example of courage and leadership. Marcus has demonstrated how those with a platform can use the power of their voice and influence to facilitate change and mobilise others to take action. Marcus, your work over the last year to ensure no child is left hungry in the UK will change lives and the country for decades to come."

Others honoured in the Talking Philanthropy awards include Fran Perrin OBE, founder of Indigo Trust and UK charity, 360Giving, and Dexter Yang, founder of GoodGovPH, a youth-led movement to uphold good governance in the Philippines.