Love It Forward

As published in The Express and Echo

I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to feel a little more hopeful than before.

I feel the tide is turning, and after a period of harsh division and in-fighting, it feels like people are starting to come together again.

It’s been down to just a few key individuals, in particular, my current hero Marcus Rashford.

At just 22 years old, he has brought together a nation in a fight to persuade the Government to supply free school meals to vulnerable children throughout the school holidays.

Of course, the fact that it takes a campaign for this is, in itself, pretty shocking, but the response he has got has restored my pride in the United Kingdom.

It seems like it’s no longer about politics, it’s about humanity, and the values that we hold dear as a society. Everyone I know is behind him, in admiration, and what’s encouraging is that there are others, like Raheem Sterling, following suit.

What a way to use your celebrity status. What a role model for the younger generation.

One of the most important lessons my Mum taught me growing up was that not everyone had the same start in life, and we must protect the most vulnerable when we are able to do so.

As both my parents fight the Co-Vid 19 virus, it seems ironic I am reminded of these words. She already has a respiratory condition, and the doctors are having to keep a close eye on her, and it frustrates me that there is absolutely nothing I can do, except support from a distance.

Yet it seems all over the country people are starting to really look out for each other, with those in the hospitality business reaching out to do their bit and offer free meals for children in half-term. We may not each be able to make a difference when it comes to child poverty, just like there’s nothing I can do about getting my Mum better, but there is usually somewhere that we can all do our bit.

It has really got me thinking this week, and I found myself asking “how can I serve?”, “where can I help?”, “in what ways can I make a difference?”, and it’s really shaped my work over the last few days, in a way that I’ve been thanked more than ever before.

One of my students, the incredible Sacha Romanovitch from Exmouth, has just been awarded an OBE for the work she did throughout lockdown supporting the financial wellbeing of those with low financial resilience, including leading a Co-Vid 19 Resilience Fund. I could not have been more proud of her. I knew she was formidable – kind and strong – but I didn’t know what she had been going through.

When I wrote to congratulate her, she wrote back “you have no idea how much you kept me going throughout lockdown”. It was the best compliment I could have received, and it felt good.

It feels good to do good.

Sometimes we are making a difference even without realising it, and even though there are so many situations where we can’t help when we would so desperately like to help, imagine if more and more of us just starting to focus on what we can do.

It will spread, like “paying it forward”, we can love it forward, and maybe, just maybe, we will all get through this together.

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