Just before all of Britain’s close to 33,000 schools shut in March, Manchester United star Marcus Rashford began campaigning to ensure that children from low-income families would still receive free meals after the government admitted there was no plan to do so. This was no bandwagon jump; Rashford, 22, already ran a charity that has raised millions to feed children and partnered on a drive to counter homelessness. Thanks to the hard work of the Manchester United and England forward, he succeeded in forcing a government U-turn and helped prevent 1.3 million British children from going hungry. Rashford says: “I don’t claim to have the education of an MP in parliament, but I do have a social education.”
The TV chef was impressively quick to launch his response to empty shelves due to stockpiling at the start of pandemic. In his Channel 4 show Keep Cooking and Carry On, Oliver shared tips and hacks to show the nation how to be creative with whatever ingredients they were able to get hold of, turning around a whole new on-screen cooking concept in record time. Jamie’s mission to provide “creative recipes tailored for the unique times we’re living in, with store cupboard and freezer faves and hero recipes you can take lots of ways” won praise from viewers and critics.
Forget pouting your way through a cover of Lennon’s “Imagine”; Lady Gaga gave a masterclass in how to use your platform for good. The singer curated a lockdown concert on TV featuring Sir Elton John, Lizzo and Stevie Wonder which raised more than £28m for the World Health Organisation. One World: Together at Home was live-streamed around the world to recognise health workers’ efforts in fighting Covid-19 and express what Gaga called the “deep gratitude” she and many others felt towards the medical community.
When parents were suddenly forced to become teachers to kids who were only allowed to leave the house once a day, factoring in PE seemed a big ask. Step forward fitness guru Joe Wicks who quickly began his series PE with Joe, free 30-minute live workouts streamed on YouTube every weekday at 9am. The sessions are based on Joe’s brand of high-intensity interval training, but aimed at children with exercises such as star jumps and “Pikachus”. Up and down the country, parents’ willingness to engage in PE has increased, and so too has children’s, creating a ritualised, family-centred engagement with exercise all thanks to Joe.
The English actor, who played Gollum in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films, raised £284,000 for charity by reading The Hobbit, unabridged, online. The 56-year-old actor’s 11-hour live-streamed performance, in which he used different voices for the many characters, was watched by more than 650,000 people. At the start of the reading, he thanked viewers for “joining me on this huge expedition we’re about to go on in our living rooms”. Donations went to NHS Charities Together and Best Beginnings, which works to give every child in the UK the best start in life.
Leading savings expert Martin Lewis revealed he has been working 14-hour days as he struggles to help people through the financial impact of the crisis, which has frequently left him in tears. The multimillionaire philanthropist and founder of MoneySavingExpert.com says a “phenomenal” number of people have sought his financial expertise, as he made important clarifications about the government’s financial support packages and helped prevent people slipping through the net of support. “In some ways I feel like I’ve been preparing for this moment my whole life,” Lewis says.
After her London restaurants Murano and Cafe Murano closed, chef Angela Hartnett says she wanted to do something other than “tidy my cupboards”. She joined forces with friend Lulu Dillon, who had set up a project called Cook-19, to feed frontline workers. Hartnett started cooking from home the next day along with her husband, chef Neil Borthwick, creating free, nutritious meals. The not-for-profit project soon grew to manage a large team of food-prep and delivery volunteers, who also began to distribute food, drink, care products, toiletries and other essentials to key workers.
Tottenham Hotspur’s manager Jose Mourinho joined the volunteer team distributing food parcels prepared at the club’s Kitchen Garden, located at its north London training ground, which usually produces food for the first team. Working alongside charities Age UK and Love Your DoorStep, the manager formerly known as the “special one” made weekly deliveries of food to vulnerable members of the community in and around Enfield.
The BBC broadcaster joined the London Irish Centre’s volunteer team to deliver food, toiletries and other essentials to elderly people living in the capital. O’Leary, 47, is a patron of the charity, which has remodelled its services during the pandemic to ensure the most vulnerable remain safe and supported. Dermot also urged the public to donate to Cafod’s coronavirus appeal for people living in some of the poorest countries in the world, and he promotes a line of charity T-shirts, emblazoned with messages such as Choose Our Carers and Choose Our NHS, with all profits donated to The Care Workers Charity and NHS Charities Together.
The singer donated over £4.5m to charities working on the coronavirus pandemic. The money, distributed by her non-profit organisation the Clara Lionel Foundation, was shared between various groups to help communities deal with the virus, including Direct Relief, Feeding America, Partners in Health and the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund. The singer and businesswoman, who founded her foundation in 2012 to honour her late grandparents, also donated over £650,000 worth of ventilator equipment to her home country Barbados.