Category: Community News

Marcus Rashford campaign forces humiliating government U-turn over free school meals

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Marcus Rashford’s campaign to urge the government to extend free school meal vouchers over the summer holidays has ended in victory following a government U-turn this afternoon.

The Manchester United forward, who campaigned to keep the scheme which will help feed 1.3 million children, welcomed the decision saying: “Just look at what we can do when we all come together.”

Rashford had won widespread support for his open letter to MPs, which made an impassioned plea to extend the food voucher scheme. He recalled his own hardship growing up in Wythenshawe and the sacrifices made by his mother to put food on the table.

Although the school meals scheme had already been extended to cover the Easter holidays, government ministers had repeatedly declared they would not be extending the scheme to cover the summer break.

But Rashford said he was not giving up his campaign and attracted cross party backing including a number of Tory MPs.

And hours before Labour was due to present a motion in parliament calling for the government to bow to public pressure, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson announced the scheme would be given extra funding to cover the summer holidays.

The spokesperson said: “Owing to the coronavirus pandemic, the prime minister fully understands that children and parents face and entirely unprecedented situation over the summer.

“To reflect this we will be providing food vouchers over the six week summer holiday period. This is a specific measure to reflect the unique circumstances of the pandemic. The scheme will not continue beyond the summer.”

Rashford’s victory has been praised by sports groups and food poverty campaigners across Wythenshawe.

 

 

 

 

Rashford continues to put pressure on government over free school meals

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Marcus Rashford Pic: Дмитрий Голубович

Marcus Rashford’s plea to extend the government’s free school meal voucher scheme throughout the summer holidays will be discussed in Parliament this afternoon.

The Manchester United footballer’s open letter to MPs calling for a U-turn on the plan to halt the scheme at the end of this term was rejected by the government yesterday.

But Rashford, who emotionally recalled his childhood in Wythenshawe is his letter , said he was not giving up and is putting more pressure on MPs today as they meet to discuss the future of the scheme.

Rashford’s letter won widespread support and praise from the public, politicians and fellow sports stars and in a series of tweets today he said: “When you head to the fridge to grab the milk, stop and recognise that parents of at least 200,000 children across the country this morning are waking up to empty shelving, recognise children around the country are this morning innocently questioning ‘why?’

“Nine out of 30 children in any given classroom are today asking ‘why?’ Why does our future not matter?”

Opposition MPs have tabled a motion calling for a U-turn on the issue and there is growing unease among some Tory back bench MPs about the government’s refusal to reverse the decision.

The government says it is  running a holiday activities and food programme to benefit thousands of  disadvantaged children this summer and is supplying £63 million to local councils in England to allow for targeted support to assist those who are struggling to afford food and other essentials due to covid-19.

But Rashford is calling for more pressure on the government, with one Tory backbencher predicting an eventual U-turn, according to the BBC.

 

 

Rashford makes emotional plea to MPs to back free school meal voucher U-turn

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Marus Rashford    Pic: Дмитрий Голубович

Manchester United and England footballer, Marcus Rashford has made an impassioned plea for the government to scrap its plan to cancel the free school meal voucher scheme for children during the summer holidays.

Rashford, who was brought up in a single parent family in Wythenshawe, has written to MPs recounting his childhood experiences and visits to foodbanks and soup kitchens and calling for action to help poorer families cope with the economic impact of the Covid 19 pandemic.

Speaking to the BBC, Rashford said: “It’s written from the heart and it’s about how my life was at the moment – the letter is to open up and let people understand the impact on families and to know I’ve done the right thing.

“What families are going through now, I’ve once had to go through that – and it’s very difficult to find a way out. It’s very important for me to help people who are struggling. Whether the outcome changes or doesn’t change – that’s why I wrote it.”

The footballer has raised about £20m to provide meals for  vulnerable people while working with charity FareShare UK during the coronavirus lockdown.

Campaigners have threatened legal action against the government for not extending the food voucher scheme into the summer holidays.

In his open letter, Rashford told MPs: “Food poverty in England is a pandemic that could span generations if we don’t course correct now. Whilst 1.3 million children are registered for free school meals, one quarter of these children have not been given any support since the school closures were ordered.

“We rely on parents, many of whom have seen their jobs evaporate due to Covid 19, to play substitute teacher during lockdown, hoping that their children are going to be focussed enough to learn, with only a small percentage of their nutritional needs met during this period. This is a system failure and without education, we’re encouraging this cycle of hardship to continue.”

Recalling his family’s reliance on breakfast clubs, free school meals and the sacrifices made by his mother he said: “The system was not built for families like mine to succeed, regardless of how hard my mum worked… It is only now that I really understand the enormous sacrifice my mum made to send me away to live in digs aged 11, a decision no mother would ever make lightly.”

In his plea for the government to reverse its decision to cancel the food voucher scheme, Rashford adds: “As a black man from a low income family in Wythenshawe, I could have been just another statistic. Instead, due to the selfless actions of my mum, my family, my neighbours and my coaches, the only stats I’m associated with are goals, appearances and caps. I would be doing myself, my family and my community an injustice if I didn’t stand here with my voice and my platform and ask you for help.

“The government has taken a “whatever it takes” approach to the economy. I’m asking you today to extend that same thinking to all vulnerable children across England. I encourage you to hear their pleas for humanity.”

Rashford has attracted widespread support and has been dubbed “the Pride of Wythenshawe”. The town’s MP and former  shadow schools minister, Mike Kane, has backed his U-turn call.

 

Wythenshawe town centre shops re-open their doors

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Wythenshawe Town Centre is beginning the re-opening of all its shops from today following the government’s relaxation of lockdown measures

Whilst essential services such as food stores pharmacies and banks have  remained open throughout the lockdown period the Town Centre management team are now beginning the gradual reopening of all retailers.

The shops now open are: Farmfoods, Courtesy Shoes, Cringle Corporation, Look Right, Vodafone, Manchester University Hospital NHS Opticians,Halcyon Exchange, Holland & Barrett, The Works, Iceland, All Computers, Wythenshawe Community Housing Group, T J Morris, Gary Walker, Kal Clothing, Ral Ltd, Jennings Opticians, Wilsher’s Butchers, Shahdid Farooq, Sayers the Bakers, Poundstretcher, Heron Foods, Boots UK, Subway, McLagan Investments, Funeral Services, B&M, Homezone, McDonalds, D P Realty, KFC, FSR Solicitors, Harvey & Thompson, Abakus 2, Mr Baker’s, Bank of Scotland, TSB Bank, Duncan Worsley, Superdrug, David Mountford, JD Sports, Wilkinson Hardware Stores, MMC Office Wellington Properties, Amanda Burns, Skills and Works Solutions, and Match Me Holdings.

Information on opening hours can be found on the Wythenshawe Town Centre website.

Additional cleaning regimes, free-to-use hand sanitiser, signage, and social distancing measures are being implemented across the centre.

Shops will have their own queue management systems, which may include limits placed on the number of customers allowed in store at any one time.

The town centre will continue to provide free parking for all NHS staff within the multi-storey car park, which can be accessed via the spiral entrance ramp leading from Rowlandsway.

Daniel Davis, Town Centre Manager, commented: “Throughout the lockdown period, and particularly as lockdown restrictions begin to ease, our number one priority has been, and continues to be, the safety and wellbeing of our entire town centre community.

“Although we have experienced some challenging times recently, we can wholeheartedly say that the positivity and community spirit seen throughout our town centre over the previous months has been overwhelming. We are thankful to all those who have worked tirelessly throughout to ensure our town centre has remained open and accessible. It is this positive approach which will set our town centre apart as we now begin to return to some form of normality.

“We are excited to be supporting our retailers and their customers as they gradually begin to reopen in the coming weeks and we are confident that, by working together collaboratively, we can ensure Wythenshawe town centre remains in the heart of our community.”

 

Wythenshawe Hall to light up in solidarity with anti-racist #BlackLivesMatter movement

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Wythenshawe Hall will light up tonight (June 2nd) in solidarity with those protesting for equal rights across America and round the globe.

The racist killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis has sparked outrage across the United States with protests in more than 22 cities.

Mr Floyd died after a policeman knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes. The officer has been charged with third degree murder and manslaughter and there have been calls for other officers to be charged as well.

Mr Floyd’s death, the latest in a number of killings including Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor this year, led to an outpouring of anger. There have have been solidarity Black Lives Matter protests in the UK including Manchester.

And Manchester United star Marcus Rashford, from Wythenshawe, voiced his  support for the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement.

The footballer said on Twitter:  “At a time I’ve been asking people to come together, work together and be united, we appear to be more divided than ever. People are hurting and people need answers.

“Black lives matter. Black culture matters. Black communities matter. We matter. #justiceforgeorgefloyd #justiceforahmaudarbery #justiceforbreonnataylor.’

Manchester City Council’s decision to light up Wythenshawe Town Hall follows a similar announcement by Liverpool City Council to uplight it’s municipal buildings

Manchester Town Hall would usually be lit to mark such events, but the ongoing Our Town Hall project means uplighting the building will not be possible.

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Discrimination takes many forms, but in whatever guise it takes, it must be challenged head on. This is the only way we can make the world a more fair and equal place to live for everyone.

“The ongoing protests in America may feel thousands of miles away, but they are asking for the fundamental right to live, be safe and be free.

“These are the simple requests that we as a global community of people should have a right to expect.

“Manchester has always been a city that tries to unite our communities while celebrating our diversity.

“For this reason, Manchester will always stand in solidarity with those who feel they have no other choice other than to protest and fight for a more equal place in the world.”