But the heartbreaking reality of his own position was put out to see by the International Rescue Committee’s CEO and President David Miliband, who praised the 22-year-old footballer for speaking out on a subject that is often “dismissed” during an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk. Mr Miliband, who was a key figure throughout Labour’s last stint in Government under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, explained that people may have overlooked the Manchester United star while he was growing up as he needed to have free school meals. The former MP for South Shields explained that Rashford’s rise showed that “investing in free school meals is an investment in the future” as part of discussions ahead of World Refugee Day on Saturday.
On Tuesday, Mr Johnson backed Rashford’s campaign to ensure that more than one million poor children will get access to free school meals throughout the summer holidays.
The Premier League ace had spent the coronavirus lockdown demanding more support for children who could not guarantee a hot meal while away from school.
In the process of winning the hearts of the nation, the England international also raised more than £20million for his campaign.
And following his successful campaign, an outpouring of emotion was sent towards Rashford, with many lavishing praise on the footballer for his involvement in raising the profile of the issue.
Mr Miliband told Express.co.uk: “The Marcus Rashford story shows you that everyone’s focussing on what he has done as a 22-year-old, but I would focus on the fact that look at the potential of that 12-year-old ten years ago, look at five-year-old 17 years ago.
“And it’s again one of those things where people may have dismissed him 10 years ago as a free school meal kid, well no he was a potential football star and political star.
“So it’s a good awakening that investing in free school meals is an investment in the future.”
Rashford shared his experiences growing up needing free school meals while he was in school and the impact it had on him.
One example he shared was of his parents having to buy food from pound shops in order to get as much value for money as possible.
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It was unclear whether the Government would cave in to Rashford’s demands, as it initially appeared Mr Johnson was reluctant to support the scheme.
However, in another U-turn for the Government in recent months, Mr Johnson and his team announced that £120million would be given to help hard up families from across the nation.
In a tweet to thank MPs for “giving families one less thing to worry about”, Rashford added: “This was never about politics, this was a cry out for help from vulnerable parents and I simply provided a platform for their voices to be heard.
“I stand proud today knowing that we have listened, and we have done what is right.
“There is still a long way to go but I am thankful to you all that we have given these families just one less thing to worry about tonight.
“The wellbeing of our children should ALWAYS be a priority.”
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The U-turn shocked many, including Mr Miliband – who was once minister on schools – who said he was “surprised they didn’t realise how stupid or wrong it was to cut the free school meal voucher in the first place”.
He also discussed how poverty across the world, in particular with refugees, was still on the rise – especially for those living in war-affected countries.
Speaking from the US, Mr Miliband told Express.co.uk that it was time for the world to find an answer to the refugee crisis and demanded a better discussion be held on how to solve it.
He added: “I think the global answer to the question is that we have to change our perspective on refugees as being victims as to being productive assets for any country and we’ve seen that in the COVID crisis and we have seen that in the case studies of people working in the NHS.
“But also elsewhere there are practical policy challenges that are faced where people are living in poor countries and don’t have much to scrap together.
“But there is also a mindset issue we can all be part of.”