Will Marcus Rashford accept invitation to address Luton 2040 conference?

Manchester United and England striker has been asked to speak at event looking at town's recovery from pandemic

Sunday, 24th October 2021, 11:30 pm
Updated Sunday, 24th October 2021, 11:34 pm

An invitation has been sent to England and Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford to address the Luton 2040 annual conference next month.

The striker has made national headlines using his influence and social media profile to campaign to end child food poverty.

The local authority’s chief executive Robin Porter told its health and wellbeing board that Mr Rashford has been asked to speak at the Levelling up Luton event on Tuesday, November 30.

Marcus Rashford (Getty Images)

“One year on from the launch of our townwide vision for Luton 2040, this is the first opportunity to bring together key stakeholders, locally, regionally and nationally,” according to a report to the board.

“We’ll discuss our progress and next steps as we recover from the pandemic to build a healthier, fairer and more sustainable town,” said the report.

“The theme of this year’s conference is how we can work together to level up Luton across wellbeing and the economy, as we emerge from the hardest 18 months most of us can remember.

“Recovery, health inequalities, our town centre and climate change will dominate our thinking and determine the future of the town for years ahead.

“The key to unlocking these challenges is transformative and longer-term funding, but we also need to collaborate more extensively, more meaningfully and more effectively.”

The morning session will focus on population wellbeing with keynote speakers confirmed from the Resolution Foundation.

“Experts will join Sir Michael Marmot on a panel as we explore Luton becoming a Marmot town,” explained the report.

The afternoon focuses on the town centre and climate change, with the levelling up minister invited to speak.

“Local authorities can’t succeed alone, which is why Luton 2040’s focus is a system-wide approach to tackling poverty,” added the report.

“Covid-19 has presented opportunities, while placing considerable strain on businesses and communities.

“Changes in working practices present new possibilities, as well as threats to our high street and town centre.

“The increases in walking and cycling, and subsequent improvements in air quality and noise because of reduced traffic, have given people a glimpse of an alternative future.

“The pandemic has made us all look more closely at the relationships between the environment, physical and mental health and wellbeing, social deprivation and economic growth.

“Luton 2040 and its strategic partners have a key role in driving and supporting places to recover and renew from the pandemic.”

Head of policy, strategy and partnership for Luton 2040 Sinead McNamara said: “It’s a real opportunity for us to reflect on the last 12 months and look forward to how we carry on working together to level up Luton.

“We’ll have a young person’s panel, dedicated to young people, who’ll present to us on the work they’re doing on 2040 and what it means to them.

“It’s a real opportunity for us to raise Luton’s profile on the great work we’re doing. But we know there are challenges we still need to work on.”

Labour Saints councillor Javed Hussain said: “One of the important things for me is the theme ‘age well’.

“Is that covered in there?” he asked. “That needs to be very much the focus, as people are living longer we want them to live healthier and enjoy a better lifestyle in their golden years.”

Ms McNamara replied: “We’ll make sure that’s fully covered within a presentation. There are about half a dozen panel members across that spectrum, including Sir Michael Marmot.”

Mr Porter said: “We wrote to Marcus Rashford, given his work and prominence in this area, to invite him to speak as well.”