Oxford Food Bank has said that it is “delighted” by Marcus Rashford’s success at Sunday’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards as the 23-year-old football star received a special prize for his charity work in 2020.

The evening’s headlines were dominated by Rashford’s Expert Panel Special Award, recognising the Manchester United striker’s work throughout the year in raising money for and awareness of the victims of food poverty in Britain, including children.

The issue gained extra relevance in a year when schools have experienced closures, and when the COVID-19 outbreak has brought poverty and hunger to the forefront of political debate.

Rashford successfully lobbied the government to provide free school meals vouchers during the summer, even having a personal conversation with the Prime Minister over the phone during his campaign, which forced Boris Johnson into a U-turn on the issue.

This was followed by the government granting an extra £400 million of funding to support vulnerable children in November. Rashford has also led a high-profile social media campaign, lending his support to numerous fundraisers and food banks across the country in order to raise awareness of their efforts.

The impact of Rashford’s campaigning has resounded throughout the nation, including in Oxford. Emma Tinker from Oxford Food Bank told The Blue that the food bank was “delighted” by Rashford’s award, adding that:  “there can’t be a food bank employee or volunteer anywhere in the UK who doesn’t love Marcus Rashford! We received a flurry of donations over October half term when he launched his campaign to extend free school meals over the holidays.”

Tinker also praised the generosity of the general public in Oxford during a testing year, and noted that “Rashford has played an important role in that.”

Oxford Food Bank, established in 2009 and based near the Botley Road, supports charities, community groups and organisations across Oxfordshire by collecting and distributing unused food from retailers and wholesalers. The food bank estimates that it collects between 6 and 8 tonnes of food every week, supporting 80 charities in Oxford and nearby towns. It is currently open six days a week under Covid-secure adjustments.

Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton took the main prize at this year’s Sports Personality of the Year Awards after equalling Michael Schumacher’s record of seven F1 titles this year.

Hamilton expressed his surprise at winning, saying: “I wasn’t expecting this knowing there’s so many great contenders”. He went on to thank the voters who gave him victory over the likes of Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, and jockey Hollie Doyle who finished second and third respectively. The 35 year-old also praised “front line workers” and “children around the world”, urging positivity in what has been an extremely difficult year for so many.

Marcus Rashford: Feeding Britain’s Children aired on BBC One at 7pm on Monday 21 December.

Find out more about Oxford Food Bank: https://oxfordfoodbank.org/

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Mitchell Marshall

Mitch (he/ him) is Editor-in-Chief for Trinity term 2021 as well as a long-suffering Sunderland fan, keen runner and general sports obsessive. His other interests include indie music, arthouse cinema, and coffee.