England international footballer Marcus Rashford MBE has partnered with Burberry to support a number of charities supporting young people across the world in a continuation of his effort to put an end to child food poverty. Through UK food redistribution charity FareShare, Burberry will fund over 200,000 meals for vulnerable families in the UK. Additional programmes range from education to supporting young creatives and artists, with the hope of positively affecting the lives of tends of thousands of young people across the world.
During the summer of 2020, Rashford raised £20 million in financial and food donations with FareShare for 1.3 million vulnerable children who were no longer receiving their usual free school meals as a result of the pandemic. After writing an open letter to the British government on 15 June 2020 touching on his own experience of child food poverty, the government announced a change in policy regarding the extension of free school meals for children during the summer holidays.
To mark the charitable partnership with Burberry, Rashford wrote a heartfelt letter to his 10-year-old self elaborating on the importance of youth centres. 'The life lessons you will hold so close as an adult, are being taught right now within the four walls of that youth centre. Your youth centre has taught you to celebrate difference. To celebrate those that don’t look or sound like you,' writes Rashford. 'Never take for granted this safe space as it plays such a big role in mum’s life. You might not be able to see it now, but her smile grows wide and the weight on her shoulders lessens every time you return home with a full belly. The noise your stomach has been making, will one day be replaced with the noise of crowds chanting your name.'
Burberry pledges to support youth organisations in Manchester and London, alongside charities with a global reach. Burberry will support Norbrook Youth Club and Woodhouse Park Lifestyle Centre, youth centres in Manchester which played a pivotal role in Rashford's own childhood. In London, Burberry will work with London Youth which supports a network of over 600 community youth organisations, with programmes intended to positively impact some of London's most deprived communities. Wide Rainbow, a non-profit based in New York, will also receive support from Burberry, providing access to the arts by providing art supplies, food deliveries and musical education to young people in US communities with little resources.
Burberry has stepped up in the name of charity during the pandemic, having donated 160,000 pieces of PPE after sourcing surgical masks through its global supply chain and turning its Yorkshire factory into a manufacturer for non-surgical gowns for medical and care workers. Burberry had also donated to FareShare earlier this year as part of its efforts to tackle food poverty during the pandemic.
Marcus Rashford's Letter to His 10-Year-Old Self
I encourage you to dream, because sometimes dreams are all you will have. I encourage you to lay your head on the pillow and close your eyes tight and think of better days to come, because luckily for us, our dreams have come true. Would I be the Marcus Rashford you see stood in front of you today if it wasn’t for the hardship and struggle? Simple answer? No. You should never be ashamed to ask for help. Take pride in knowing that your struggle will play the biggest role in your purpose. Never drop your head in shame.
There have been many days that you have felt alone and, in this game we call football, there will be a few more to come. But your family and your community will never allow anyone to dim your light because that light is still needed to survive the darkest days. The noise your stomach has been making, will one day be replaced with the noise of crowds chanting your name. Buckle up little man, it’s going to be quite the ride.
Your community will prove to be the most special extension of your family. When you fall, which you will, there will always be neighbours and friends to catch you. There is no need to feel ashamed because they will catch you without judgment and comment. No questions asked. Feel the warmth of those around you and know that one day, you are going to have the platform to repay them. For a young boy who says so little, one day you will have a voice that speaks for many.
One day you will have a lot of things you never dreamt of owning, but never forget that stability and consistency are two of the most valuable things you will ever experience. The youth centres that you visit today on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday, will prove to be central to all of the greatest gifts you receive in life – your friendships, your discipline, your respect, and compassion for others.
One day you will have the opportunity to travel to lands you never knew existed, to hear languages so foreign, and experience culture so alien. Don’t ever be overwhelmed. Stand tall, with the Mancunian accent that will become so familiar to many. Your youth centre has taught you to celebrate difference. To celebrate those that don’t look or sound like you. And this is one of the greatest lessons you will learn, so hold on to it, as one day you will be stood alongside ten new allies whose only common language is that round ball that has become so important in your life. We do not point fingers, we never have. We wrap our arms around each other and tug each other up at times we are feeling low. Always remember that kindness is power.
The life lessons you will hold so close as an adult, are being taught right now within the four walls of that youth centre. The freedom and safety you are feeling, will one day be felt on a pitch much greater than you can imagine. Never take for granted this safe space as it plays such a big role in mum’s life. You might not be able to see it now, but her smile grows wide and the weight on her shoulders lessens every time you return home with a full belly. One day those football players you idolize will be trumped by a greater hero. A hero that goes by the name of mum.
There have been many days that you have felt lesser than others, but no more. Your voice, your stance, your family, your community, and friends, all matter. Whenever you feel like you have very little, know that there are always people willing to give. Just look at those doors wide open welcoming you in for a snack or a chat. If I had to ask one thing of you it would be this. Please, never go to bed feeling like you don’t have a role to play in this life because, believe me when I tell you, the possibilities are endless.