Category: Politics

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 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.”

Northenden choir joins stars for Manchester sing-a-long ahead of final Clap for Carers

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Rowetta (pic Man Alive)

A host of Greater Manchester faces from the world of entertainment have added their support to Together In One Voice, a mass doorstep singalong  tonight (Thursday 28 May), ahead of what is likely set to be the final Clap for Carers.

Rowetta and Shaun Ryder from the Happy Mondays, DJ and musician Clint Boon, will join Coronation Street stars Jennie McAlpine, Simon Gregson and Julia Goulding,  along with  Mani from the Stone Roses, bands including Blossoms and The Lottery Winners and artists including Jenna G, Slay, Evabee and Oneda, as well as Manchester City footballer Phil Foden.

Northenden Community Choir, will be among 20 different community choirs and 30 musicians from across the city region who have spent the last few weeks recording themselves playing their instruments and singing their parts in isolation in their own homes. Each of these individual vocal and musical parts has then been sent in to Musical Director Dan McDwyer and his team of sound engineers, for mixing into the live versions of the songs that everyone will sing along to during the event.

 

Amongst the choirs taking part are: The Northern Session Choir, Bee Vocal – The Manchester Mental Health Choir, Manchester Contemporary Youth Choir, Chorus of Others, Manchester Inspirational Voices, Manchester Lesbian and Gay Chorus, Sunday Boys, Manchester High School for Girls Choir,  Urban Stage School of Performing Arts, Levenshulme High School, Stagecoach Performing Arts School, and Leigh community choir.

 

The stars will appear on screen to deliver a series of messages of support ahead of the event on Thursday from 7.15pm, as Greater Manchester residents prepare to sing along from their doorsteps and windows, in a celebration of the importance of community and mental well-being during these unprecedented times.

Clint Boon said: “Manchester, music, and people mean the world to me, and it’s at times like these we’re going through at the moment that make you realise how much we all really need to reach out to each other to help us get through. Music is one of the best tonics I know for helping do this, and I’m really proud to be part of tonight’s event.  I’m going to be standing on my doorstep later with all my family, belting the tunes out, and I hope everyone else does too.”

In supporting the project they are joining Liam Gallagher, Mark Owen of Take That, James’ Tim Booth, Emeli Sande, Mike Pickering from M People, Tom Walker, Denise Johnson, Liam Fray from The Courteeners and Aitch, who will all be appearing on screen on the night. They will be introducing the live renditions of their music by the public, accompanied by a specially-arranged soundtrack featuring performances by virtual choirs and musicians from across the city region.

 

The soundtrack – which includes Take That’s Shine, Martha and the Vandellas’ Dancing In The Streets, Emeli Sande’s You Are Not Alone, James’ Sit Down, Oasis’ Wonderwall, M People’s Search for The Hero and Tom Walker’s Leave a Light On – will be streamed on the night for people to join in with from their doorsteps via MIF LIVE, Manchester International Festival’s on-line channel, and will also be broadcast live on BBC Radio Manchester.

 

Emeli Sande said: “I believe that singing and being part of a choir can be such a positive experience. Music transcends all barriers. I’m so happy to be part of bringing people together to connect and feel stronger.”

 

The event is being delivered by social entrepreneur Rose Marley and Manchester International Festival, alongside Manchester City Council and Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), and is supported by Co-op.

 

Rose Marley said:  “Greater Manchester’s artistic community has come out in force to support tonight’s event, and from choirs and musicians, to bands and artists – we truly are all coming Together in One Voice.”

 

The doorstep singalong is being captured on the night with drones, street cameras and footage from residents, for an extended broadcast featuring interviews with artists and participants which will be broadcast on Sunday 31 May, 6pm exclusively on MIF Live.

 

David Greenhalgh, GMCA Lead for Culture, said: “The power of song is universal and singing brings well-known benefits including boosting self-esteem and one’s sense of well-being. That is needed at this time more than ever. I would like to thank all the artists involved for throwing their support behind what will be a wonderful event, allowing us to get together in a safe and socially distanced way to prove once again that Greater Manchester really is the cultural heartland of our country. I encourage as many people in our city-region as possible to take part tonight and have fun.”

Tributes for Manchester’s Deputy Leader, Cllr Sue Murphy who died today

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Cllr Sue Murphy

Tributes have been paid to Wythenshawe councillor, Sue Murphy who died this afternoon following an illness.

The Brooklands councillor, who was also Manchester City Council’s Deputy Leader had served the city since being elected in 1995, and had been had been Deputy Leader. She had also been Executive Member for Employment and Skills and Executive Member for Finance.

She had been suffering from an ongoing illness which was not related to Covid 19.

Cllr Murphy will also be remember for her work as chair of trustees for the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund established after the 22 May 2017 terror attack She was also on the board of Manchester Health and Care Commissioning Group and  and was also chair of governors of the LTE Group, which runs Manchester College based in Benchill.

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Today Manchester has lost a great socialist and public servant who has dedicated her life to social justice and making the city, and the world, a better and fairer place for everybody – but especially those with the greatest needs,” said Sir Richard.

“Over the years she has taken on many roles locally and nationally, including some of the most challenging issues we face as a society – tackling homelessness and the scourge of family poverty being just part of her council portfolio.

“I have lost a friend and colleague who has been alongside me for over a quarter of a century, for the last ten years as my deputy leader.

“The loss is a devastating shock. I will miss Sue, Manchester will miss Sue, but we can only imagine the feelings of her husband Paul and her family at the moment and, above all, my thoughts are with them.”

Colleagues and friends joined Cllr Leese in paying tribute to Cllr Murphy.

 

 

 

 

 

City Council unveils plans to support residents facing Covid 19 hardship

ollerheadManchester City Council has unveiled a £7.5 million plan to support people facing hardship because of the Covid 19 outbreak.

The measures are being funded through £7.46m allocated to Manchester City Council through the Government’s Covid-19 Hardship Fund.

More than 34,000 people who already receive Council Tax Support, reducing their annual bills by up to 82.5 per cent, will have a further £150 chopped off their bill for 2020/21. It means, for example, that someone living on their own in a Band A property and receiving full Council Tax Support would have nothing to pay this year.

It is anticipated that the £150 should be paid into the majority of these accounts in the next two weeks.

Some £5.63 million has been set aside for this element of support, including a contingency amount to cover potential new claimants as well as existing recipients of Council Tax Support.

In addition, the Council has allocated a further £1.8 million to boost the support available to the most in-need residents:

● £700,000 to help pay for lunchtime meals for school age children who already get free school meals, or whose families fall into hardship. For free school meals this applies until Monday 20 April when it is replaced by the national scheme. The Council scheme is bridging the gap, including over the Easter Holidays.

● £500,000 for emergency Council Tax Support for people facing hardship who may not be eligible for the existing scheme.

● £200,000 to support emergency food provision

● £200,000 to support carers

● £200,000 to enhance the Council’s existing Welfare Provision Scheme which provides emergency cash grants to households in urgent need.

Councillor Carl Ollerhead, Executive Member for Finance, said: “This is a tough period for a lot of people, especially those who were already struggling to make ends meet. We are determined to do all we can as a council to help people get through it.

“This almost £7.5m package of support measures, designed to be accessible quickly to those who need them, is a prime example of that commitment. It will benefit tens of thousands of Manchester’s most economically vulnerable people and make a real difference.”

To find out more about the different schemes and the support available visit:
http://www.manchester.gov.uk/coronavirus