Sir Alex Ferguson backs Marcus Rashford's food drive with £2m pledge

Sir Alex backs Marcus Rashford’s food drive: Ferguson hails Man Utd player for ‘opening the eyes of everyone in Britain’ as he pledges up to £2million for Christmas charity appeal

  • Sir Alex Ferguson has praised Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford 
  • The former United manager, 78, grew up in tough circumstances in Glasgow
  • Ferguson described Rashford as humble and said his feet were on the ground
  • Boris Johnson was forced to u-turn twice due to Rashford’s ongoing campaign 

Sir Alex Ferguson has praised the efforts of Marcus Rashford as he teamed up with the Manchester United forward to tackle child food poverty.

Rashford was awarded an MBE for his recent campaigning – which also saw the Government twice make a U-turn on providing free school meals during holidays.

Now the 23-year-old has said former United boss Ferguson is set to pledge up to £2million towards the FareShare charity for which Rashford is an ambassador.

Sir Alex Ferguson has praised Marcus Rashford’s campaign to highlight the blight of child food poverty in Britain which has forced Boris Johnson’s government to perform two u-turns on the issue

An appeal in the Times is aiming to raise funds and Rashford revealed Ferguson, alongside Sir Michael Moritz, will match donations up to the aforementioned sum and described the news as ‘incredible’.

Ferguson, 78, grew up in Glasgow in tough conditions and believes Rashford has done a great job in highlighting the plight facing families across Britain.

‘You have to be shocked at the number of people who are in need of food,’ he said in an interview with the Times.

‘Marcus has opened the eyes of everyone in Britain. The work he’s done has been fantastic and we’re all so proud of him because of that.

‘What Marcus has done is he’s led the way – people will say, “That boy he’s only 23 years of age”. People who are in their later ages…should be saying, “I can do something”.’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson phoned Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford, pictured, to tell him that the government has granted local councils £170m in additional funding for meals for needy children over Christmas

Rashford never played under Ferguson, making his United debut as an 18-year-old three years after the long-serving boss retired.

But he has now left a mark on Ferguson – a winner of 13 Premier League titles during his 25-year reign – off the field.

‘He should be giving me some advice because what he’s doing at 23 is fantastic for a young person,’ added Ferguson.

‘I’ve no need to tell Marcus because I think there’s humility in the way he lives his life. His feet are on the ground.

‘These are great qualities to carry you through life. Football hasn’t changed him. There is a danger in football that it can change people, money can change people, stardom can change people.

‘Getting a celebrity position in life can sometimes be a problem because not everyone can carry success well. And at the moment Marcus is doing that very, very well.’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson phoned Rashford at the beginning of the month to  alert him to the decision to lay on £170million of extra funding for the measure. 

Rashford said he was ‘so proud’ of those who had united behind his campaign and that he was ‘overwhelmed by the outpouring of empathy and understanding’, promising his supporters to ‘fight for the rest of my life’ to end child hunger in the UK.

In a statement, he added: ‘Following the game today, I had a good conversation with the Prime Minister to better understand the proposed plan, and I very much welcome the steps that have been taken to combat child food poverty in the UK.

‘There is still so much more to do, and my immediate concern is the approximate 1.7 million children who miss out on free school meals, holiday provision and Healthy Start vouchers because their family income isn’t quite low enough, but the intent the Government have shown today is nothing but positive and they should be recognised for that.

‘The steps made today will improve the lives of near 1.7 million children in the UK over the next 12 months, and that can only be celebrated.’

The funds will pay for the Covid Winter Grant Scheme to support families over the season while the Holiday Activities and Food programme will be extended to cover the Easter, summer and Christmas breaks in 2021, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced.

Sir Alex praised Rashford, pictured, and has pledged up to £2 million towards the campaign

As part of the package, Healthy Start payments, which help expectant mothers and those with young children on low incomes and in receipt of benefits to buy fresh fruit and vegetables, are set to rise from £3.10 to £4.25 a week from April 2021.

‘Seeing the role everyone has played in supporting our most vulnerable children has been the greatest moment of my life. I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of empathy and understanding,’ Rashford added.

‘I am fully committed to this cause, and I will fight for the rest of my life for it, because in my mind, no child should ever go hungry in the United Kingdom. I don’t want any child to go through what I went through, and any parent to experience what my mother experienced.

‘I now call on the Government to collaborate with the Child Food Poverty Taskforce, something the Prime Minister and I discussed on the phone last night, to guarantee that no child does.’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, pictured, was forced to reverse government policy twice and grant additional funding for food poverty in response to Rashford’s campaign

Rashford further expressed his gratitude, tweeting: ‘To the campaigners, charity workers, volunteers, teachers, care workers, key workers, that have fought for this level of progress for years, thank you. This is your victory. Never underestimate the role you have all played. I’m just honoured to be on this journey with you.’

Making the announcement, Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said: ‘We want to make sure vulnerable people feel cared for throughout this difficult time and, above all, no one should go hungry or be unable to pay their bills this winter.’

The U-turn comes after the Government last month whipped Conservative MPs to vote against a Labour motion in the House of Commons calling for the extension of free school meal provision following Rashford’s campaign.

Businesses and councils across the country stepped into the breach following the result, announcing they would fund meals during the October half-term for those who needed them.

Rashford’s petition for pupils in disadvantaged families to have their meals paid for during the holidays went on to attract more than one million signatures – mass backing which piled pressure on Downing Street to commit to more support.

The DWP confirmed the £170m worth of winter grants would be administered by councils in England rather than schools.

The funding will be ring-fenced, with at least 80 per cent earmarked to support with food and bills, and will cover the period to the end of March.

Local authorities will receive the funding at the beginning of December.

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